When Up Our Street asked residents of Easton and Lawrence Hill what was important to their wellbeing, the environment in which they live was one of the most important things they told us about. The Festival of Solutions: Making Places on Saturday 24 March was all about identifying those areas in the environment that feel unloved, detrimental or unnavigable and asking, ‘What can we do about this?’
By far the most popular workshop of the day was about Lawrence Hill Roundabout, and we were amazed how much can be achieved in an hour of focused conversation and sharing of ideas. Streets Reimagined challenged people to think big – what if the dual carriageway wasn’t a dual carriageway? What if the roundabout was actually a cross roads? All of a sudden the possibility for more positive uses of the space open up, whether it’s for affordable housing, commercial space or parks. We were excited to plant a seed of ‘big thinking’ about this site, and hope to find a route to develop a community led plan for this site in the future.
We were also joined on the day by Adblock Bristol who also put a challenge to the audience – what if there was no advertising in public space? The shocking fact of the unequal distribution of advertising billboards struck a nerve with the audience (there are 52 billboards in the Lawrence Hill ward but only one in Clifton) and raised the question of why the same areas carry the burden of all the negative aspects of development. Again creative ideas were shared about the potential for sites once you start questioning what is already there.
Another hot topic for debate was Stapleton Road train station, and the desire to seriously improve the environment for passengers and local residents. We are delighted that Severnside Community Rail Partnership are 'on board’ to help form a local group and develop a community plan for station improvements.
The final mentions go to Tidy BS5, in particular local campaigner Khalil Abdi, who led a great discussion on lessons learnt and progress made to tackle waste and fly tipping, particularly around Stapleton Road. We would also like to thank the Architecture Centre who opened the day with a brilliant workshop offering inspiration for communities wanting to take a lead in shaping where they live.
Thanks to all that came along for participating on the day, we look forward to working together on all these issues!