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More than fifty volunteers from Leeds communities took part in an upbeat and enthusiastic neighbourhood planning workshop organised by Leeds Beckett University’ School of the Built Environment & Engineering on 30 January. They worked together to shape a vision for their communities helped by practical tips on plan-making and design from the university’s planning and housing lecturers. This was the second event in a programme of activities in which Leeds Beckett puts the skills and knowledge of its staff at the service of neighbourhoods in Leeds. Feedback from the workshop was unanimously positive and delegates went away with fresh ideas on how to deal with the thorny issues they face in the community.

Quintin Bradley, Senior Lecturer in Planning at Leeds Beckett University, said: “Sixty communities in Leeds, and many others across Yorkshire, are setting out a vision for how their local community will develop. They need technical assistance and expert advice to do this neighbourhood plan. Leeds Beckett is making sure they get the help they need.” The workshop was organised by Leeds Planning Network, one the new research clusters set up by the School of the Built Environment and Engineering supported by the Centre for Knowledge Exchange.

Delegates heard from Jeff Newton and John Steel, community volunteers in Boston Spa who are in the final stages of their neighbourhood plan. They talked about their innovative new designs for the high street and plans for a renewable energy scheme. Jeff and John stressed that plan-making was hard work but they were enthusiastic about the future and the improvements they wanted for their village (see their presentation below).

Detailed guidance on the legal aspects of plan-making was given by Bob Pritchard, specialist planning lawyer and guest lecturer at Leeds Beckett. He spelled out what a neighbourhood plan could achieve and what should go in it. This was vital information for delegates learning to write planning policy that will guide development in their community over the next twenty years (see his presentation below).

Following this, there were three discussion groups each focusing on themes requested by delegates at the previous workshop. Will Sparling, PhD candidate at Leeds Beckett gave help to inner-city communities working together on common problems. Planning lecturer, Harvey Pritchard gave advice on planning for infrastructure, while Jenny Fisher, principle urban designer for Leeds City Council helped delegates work on improving the look and feel of their neighbourhoods. Delegates were full of praise for the Leeds Beckett event and gave the organisers many more ideas for future workshops.

Copy of Leeds City Council “Neighbourhood Planning & Design Issues” Document to download

The next neighbourhood planning workshop is 16 April 2016 but in the mean time Leeds Planning Network will be holding two planning masterclass events on Tuesday 1st March (Details here)  and Thursday 17th March (Details here