Modern day Beeston is defined by its diversity, independence and vibrancy. It is home to such a broad range of folk from differing backgrounds with varied lifestyles. We aren’t a homogenous community. It is these interactions and combinations that make Beeston a special place to live, work and play.
The town’s individuality drives its independence. A ‘one size fits all’ approach just won’t work and as a result niche ideas, business and culture have blossomed and been sustained. We must be proud of and support our autonomy and individuality.
Traditional town centres have been and will continue to face overwhelming pressures in the next decade in the face of societal changes. When compared to similar towns in Nottingham, we should understand, remember and celebrate that the town has thus far managed to maintain a distinctive retail and recreation offer.
The key in my opinion to building on the town’s strengths is building. More houses. Lots of them. Of all types. For all the various groups that contribute towards the town’s diversity. More ‘affordable’ houses. More ‘student’ properties. More ‘family’ housing. More to buy and more to rent. We cannot be myopic and assume that more of one type of property means less of another. We all know that the demand for all types of accommodation is strong; hence the continued growth in rents and house prices. The demand is not going away; nor should we wish it to. Supply is the key to unlocking more of the town’s potential.
Housing delivery targets and measured simply in terms of the number of houses built. This creates a culture in which planning is viewed in terms of working out where to put the houses we ‘have to’ build. I would like to see decision-makers shift their attitude towards considering where to put the houses we ‘want to’ build and also deciding how to welcome schemes that cater for all areas of need in the housing mix.
Developing pride of place starts with accepting and celebrating the town’s individual character. Welcoming rather than bemoaning the disparate sections of our community. Furthermore it is about taking individual responsibility for our actions and choices. Where and how we choose to shop, drink and play. The notion of ‘use it or lose it’ is thought of in the collective sense which absolves each of us personal accountability. Coordinated schemes such as shop local initiatives; local currencies like the Lewes pound; and improving parking arrangements could all help, but their ultimate success depends on the cumulative impact of our individual decision making.
My 2020 vision for Beeston is that at the end of the decade, each and every one of us with connections to and affection for the town can positively answer the question – ‘How did I contribute to the diversity, independence and vibrancy of Beeston in the 2020s?’
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