I, and many others, attended the Big City Plan meeting at the Council House last night to hear about the Council’s and the public’s ideas for the City. Before I go any further, I think it is worth mentioning that allowing citizens the chance to influence how their city should grow is a very encouraging thing for the Council to practise.
After Philip Singleton’s talk about the City Plan, the great unhosed mob of civvies filed into their groups to discuss problems and solutions while staff wrote down all the thoughts culminating in 3 main points that would presented back to the council.
To give my own point a plug, I feel strongly that physical communications must be set up between the BullRing and The Custard Factory because if you didn’t know what was down in Digbeth you would never go down, simply because the adjoining walk is not a particularly inviting one.
But by far the best idea, I thought, came from John Mostyn (or at least his team) that the Big City Plan needs a philosophy that we can then act upon. One of the problems Birmingham has had in its regeneration is a lack of cohesion and common thread between the seperate areas of regeneration as well as a lack of sympathy with the culture of independent marketers and establishments. Personally, I think the city should base its philosophy around the independent creative community creating visual arts centres and helping the community have a national platform to show off the city’s talent. On a slightly bigger scale, I also think a international landmark would be a great way to turns eyes on to Birmingham.
Once a philosophy is agreed upon, it would become significantly easier to decide on architecture, angle, what people to target for population growth, amenities and cultural hotspots. Lets hope Mike Whitby and his crew don’t let us down at the final hurdle by ignoring his citizens, particularly with regards to the Big City Philosophy.
Big hello to everyone who attended by the way.