A new year and some new and some old - challenges!
Every year the programme of events and projects reflects the issues impacting on the Forum's membership.
This year this topicality will also reflect the current economic environment which gives us an opportunity for reflection, which the recent rush for growth at any cost, made so difficult.
This means that we will be continuing to examine retail development, with:
- an event hosted by John Lewis Partnership (at Longstock House on the Waitrose Farm, Leckford) for senior officers to examine the implications of PPS 4 & 6,
- the first / pilot breakfast event in Bath, looking at Southgate in Bath and Cabot Circus in Bristol, and
- a national event in York later in the year, by which time we should have a clearer picture of the way forward for historic towns.
The pressure for housing growth will be explored in Cambridge, with the emphasis on achieving high quality design, local identity and the sustainability agenda at the same time as meeting Government targets, with the consensus of the community. A tall order.
Parking revenues and traffic management are contentious issues, so on 14 May we will visit Winchester to look at parking and park and ride as part of an integrated transport management strategy. Winchester boasts a very successful Park and Ride service, which will go under the microscope, with other case studies and with a view to updating the Forum's P&R guidance.
To celebrate the opening of membership to the whole of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, we are planning a study tour in the Republic of Ireland to explore streetscape issues and to share practice. As well as visiting Cork, Youghal, Waterford and Dublin the Forum will join the Academy of Urbanism for a conference in Kilkenny.
I am also in discussion with colleagues in Scotland, to organise a joint event 'north of the border', to compare heritage protection practices.
Heritage protection issues are high on our agenda, in the light of the fact that the Heritage Protection Bill was not included in the Queen's speech and we will be continuing to develop a strategy following on from 'Townscape in Focus' at the Annual Conference last year.
Details should be available soon so watch the website for developments!
A busy year ahead, which we hope will be helpful to you and you will support.