Some thoughts about changing behaviour and how we might move on as lockdown eases.
Online shopping and working from home may be more permanent legacies to impact on our futures. And suburban settings could be well placed to accommodate a more home centred world. Beeston is big enough to support supermarkets, (that stay open), and small enough to be conveniently accessible to services on foot or bike, which makes it healthy for us and good for the planet.
Beeston is resilient too. Historically we have survived by adapting to meet changing needs. Some might see the town now simply as a suburb with a shopping-cum-service centre and transport hub, but there is more. We are placed conveniently between Nottingham and Derby, with the University of Nottingham campus, a river frontage, nature reserve and entertainment all close to hand. There are good local and national transport links and we have some sense of identity and community.
All these are basic strengths that suggest we have a long term future, if we can survive the disruptions of lockdown and meet the longer term challenges and opportunities of an online world.
While Covid remains contagious we can expect social distancing to continue in public places, particularly shops, services and transport, with an obvious impact on Beeston town centre. How long this lasts and whether our national economy and local businesses survive the interval is arguable, but we might manage even these if we keep a steady eye on the long term.
Our past suggests that meeting changing needs is a tested survival strategy. So if we want Beeston to continue as a shopping and services destination then we must plan to meet needs that cannot be met online. Future shoppers might reasonably expect a lively, clean and attractive place with a quality ‘green’ feel. We must know what we want and work together to meet a changing market.
As individuals we can support local businesses, services and voluntary activities as they try to return to some normality. We can show loyalty as customers by shopping locally. We can continue to volunteer, building on initiatives driven by lockdown to help to make this a fairer and more inclusive place. We can make our homes more comfortable with more insulation and by incremental improvements. More working from home should help the local economy and a greener agenda.
Individual businesses may see opportunities to build on innovations tried elsewhere and to look for online opportunities in unexplored markets, even overseas. Not all will survive. Vacancies might be managed positively so that empty shops and offices can be avoided.
Council led initiatives can supply a policy framework with clear objectives, complemented by actions to ensure that the spaces between buildings, beyond the direct control of individuals, are attractive. Repair and maintenance responsibilities must remain at a high standard to keep Beeston’s infrastructure appropriate, serviceable and clean. Green initiatives might be encouraged.
There may be other scenarios. Can a new online normal that is more home based be sustainable? Can we come out of this pandemic stronger through understanding and sensible management? Discuss these issues and Beeston’s many strengths at #Beeston2020Vision on 25 September.
15 June 2020
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