Let’s talk about HAZ baby!

Ahead of Civic Voice’s roundtable discussion on Heritage Action Zones I wanted to continue to share my thoughts as to how we can do high streets differently.

Much has been written about “the loss of the high street” and people predicting the future. But communities do not need more reports and more research – they need help. Actions are what matter. We need local communities to be given the support that they need to #bethechange.

Our current project ‘How to do high streets differently’ is exploring different ideas as to how we can give communities a greater role in the future of the high street.

So, why a meeting on HAZ Zoom meeting?

It is a continuation of our face to face work. Civic Societies often connect face to face in a meeting room, or via visits to different areas. The benefit of Zoom is that we can connect many more people. We can now bring in a wider-audience, not just civic societies. We are pleased to have Louise Brennan from Historic England; Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading and Sophie Gibson from Burnley Empire Trust joining the call today.

To support their local ambitions, Blackpool Civic Trust had intended on hosting a meeting of civic societies in Heritage Action Zone areas, in May, but for obvious reasons, this didn’t happen. This Zoom meeting replaces the Blackpool meeting.

The main aims for the session are:

  • To connect different groups together to share experience
  • To start gaining an understanding of the amount, type and range of community activities within Heritage Action Zones
  • To identify the issues on which community action is focused and any significant gaps;
  • To identify what civic societies and others believe would most help them increase or extend their activity in future
  • To help inform the future direction of the HAZ network; and
  • To feed into Civic Voice’s wider thinking on doing high streets differently.

During the session, we might event cover the idea of campaigning for HAZs to become ‘Community Improvement Districts‘.

It was Joan Humble (Blackpool Civic Trust) and then John Walker, (Ramsgate Civic Society) who suggested to us that they thought the idea of Community Improvement Districts could be something of a legacy for HAZ areas. Interestingly, Matthew Mckeague at the Architectural Heritage Fund also suggested something similar when he participated in a Civic Voice #inconversation.

The common view seems to be emerging that local high streets will gain an increased  importance relative to city centres. If the future is for more focus on ‘local high streets’, perhaps the idea of a CID can be something that individual heritage action zones can consider.  We see the idea being much wider going much wider than just HAZ areas.

The conversation today will start focusing on:

  • Overall, are you satisfied with what the HAZ is trying to achieve?
  • Are you satisfied that you have a voice and can influence the direction of the HAZ?
  • What was your motivation in deciding to get involved in the HAZ?
  • Are you facing any barriers to being involved?
  • What do you see your role as on the HAZ?
  • Do you have any other perspectives on the HAZ idea?
  • If you could improve one aspect of HAZ, what would it be?

We share early stage ideas with civic groups across the country as it is important that communities themselves become the advocates for local change.  We are always feeding back and discussing ideas with communities. No comment is ever left behind in how we shape our ideas.

Places are not limited by their opportunity; they are limited by their leadership

Places are like jigsaws. 1000 pieces have to come together to make a good place. That includes having someone pulling the individual pieces together and building the picture.

We believe that the people who can start the jigsaw are the local community. We believe that our high streets need local leaders. We intend to unlock this leadership and put the civic movement at the heart of the debate on the future of our high streets. We will support them to have short, medium and long term action plans for redefining where they live. It might even involve some of them driving forward with campaigns for Community Improvement Districts.

Where to start the jigsaw?

Watch this space, or watch our next set of #inconversation events via http://www.civicvoice.org.uk/get-involved/events/



Let’s talk about HAZ baby!

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