Day Four: Thursday 16th June 2011

IT IS WORTH NOTING HERE THAT THE WORKSHOP WAS NOT TIMETABLED RUN ON FRIDAY 17TH JUNE AND BLOG FOR THE FINAL DAY SATURDAY 18TH JUNE WILL BE POSTED ON MONDAY 20TH JUNE.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE THAT THE DOORS AT THE WOODFORD COMMUNITY CENTRE WILL BE OPEN FROM 12 NOON ON SATURDAY 20TH JUNE SO PLEASE COME DOWN, MEET THE TEAM AND SEE WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO ALL WEEK! 

Adam Broadway’s Blog; Facilitator

Today’s blog has been written by Adam Broadway, a member of the Taylor Young facilitation team.

So we have reached Day Four. It has been a long week and I have been delighted about the energy everyone continues to show.  The TY team remain focused and set a new record today for setting up a room!

Day Four was a day of fruit…….literally. While yesterday we spoilt everyone with cream cakes, it was now time to freshen everyone up with fresh fruit. But important it was also the day when we asked everyone to pull everything together and show the fruits of their labours.

Our day started early with a really interesting visit to Poynton High School, where we spent a morning session with a group of fourteen year old, Year Nine students. With the students we asked them what they liked and didn’t like about their area and then asked them to work in small groups to outline what they would want on the site.

We took this opportunity as we felt that young people’s views are often not captured and also the exhibition attendee data confirmed that those under 35 only represented 5 percent of the total.

The results were interestingly balanced and sensible. While clearly wanting youth activities such as sports, theme park, paintball, there was also recognition to keep open space, provide improved public and sustainable transport connections. Drawings were made available during the afternoon session.

We started Day Four with the now traditional previous day review, which drew no immediate issues. However in our first session we asked everyone to review the vast amount of information supplied in the resource boxes and comment on the various technical presentations made at the close of yesterday’s proceedings. It was during this session that a number of the group raised concerns that sometimes the information may be lacking or potentially conflicting. For example around the percentage of affordable housing, the new information that there are possibly a number of oil/diesel storage tanks.

Our now four groups were asked to review the information and provide a list of key issues, concerns and questions. Each groups duly responded to the task and a range of important and valid points were recorded. Officers from SBMC and CEC agreed to take these away and report. A key question raised was how the results of this intense week would be reported back. TY re-confirmed that they will be producing a summary report supported by an accurate record of points raised. In addition a presentation to members of both authorities and the wider community will follow, dates for these are yet to be confirmed however it is likely the public feedback will be in mid July. Following this question, it was agreed to consider how the group could feedback on the draft content prior to circulation.

Understandably there are vast amount of technical data and reports required before the re-development of Woodford Aerodrome can commence due to its existing use and scale. It was noted that some key tasks had either started, such as traffic modelling, but other important surveys such as ecology, ground investigations, environmental impact assessments had not yet been commissioned.

Having spent an hour or so asking lots of detailed questions the event switched back to concept proposals. Those following the blog will know that each attendee was asked to sketch out some high level ideas about how the whole site could be developed yesterday. Key features such as access, areas to be developed and areas to be open, green spaces were plotted on site plans. The TY team examined these during the morning and it seemed to us that there were four themes emerging. So for this afternoon session we asked attendees to form working groups based on the theme they felt most aligned to.

The four themes were:-

  1. Those who only wanted to develop within the existing MEDS (major existing development site)
  2. Those who only wanted to develop same amount of land defined by the MEDS but consider other locations in the Stockport Council area only
  3. Those who only wanted to develop same amount of land defined by the MEDS but consider other locations across the site (including Cheshire East)
  4. Those who wanted to be free thinking and develop the whole site without the MEDS constraints

After a fruit and refreshment break we asked the attendees to sit on a table which represented one of the above themes. Interestingly everyone obliged though by far the majority headed to group three.

The task now was to agree as a group a draft plan for the site, within the constraints know/set.  The purpose was to achieve a consensus and agree a project vision and set of key objectives to support their proposal. Each proposal would then be presented to a Design Review Panel. What has consistently surprised me is how everyone has risen to a challenging task with commitment and eagerness. Each group in their own way set about drawing and defining their proposal.

The final session was fascinating. All four groups pinned up their outputs and in turn were asked to present their proposal to the Design Review Panel, who consisted of Stephen Gleave TY and panel chair, Paul Lawrence from Stockport Council, Adrian Fisher from Cheshire East Council and Richard Cass from Cass Associates.

Each group were given ten minutes only to present their task and all delivered perfectly to time. A series of testing and challenging questions from the panel were equally defended in support of their proposal by the group representatives.

Taking an overview there seemed to be some consistency in each theme. For me these were:-

  • Desire to protect the green space, make valuable use of views and vistas
  • Make good use of the Woodford area due to access/connections.
  • All groups suggested a range of housing, two stressed inclusion of an older persons village. One group did focus on high value/larger homes rather than affordable
  • Mixed uses through-out…ie inclusion of employment and housing.
  • All wanted to ensure a sustainable development.
  • Plenty of ideas around use of cycling/pedestrian access.
  • Desire to retain and reflect the site’s history in various ways.

The week has been quite a journey. As expected there have been lots of highs and lows. Upon reflection yesterday was a clear high. It was the culmination of lots of really hard work. It also served well to bring a range of people together under a common objective, many of whom are now on first name terms. I’d personally like to wish everyone very good luck for the next stages.

Adam Broadway

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