Our world is local, this defines and drives everything we do. So, when we recently designed and facilitated the inaugural Bristol Development Forum, we were in our element.
This long-awaited idea was conceived some time ago between Cratus, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, Cabinet member for Housing Cllr Paul Smith and Jo Davis from planners GVA (now Avison Young). Knowing the political will was there and that Bristol developers desperately wanted more collaborative engagement with Bristol City Council and vice versa, the Forum turned from an idea to a reality over the following months, culminating in a meeting between 25 industry representatives, each with their own agenda but all with a common goal – to speed up the delivery of quality development in Bristol.
In his introduction to the Forum, Marvin focused on the value of open, early engagement and dialogue. How Bristol City Council and developers are working towards a common cause and working together, not against each other is the key to achieving this common goal – development that Bristol can be proud of.
Bristol’s One City Plan was highlighted as a possible vehicle for the Forum to exert influence and shape. This Plan, launched earlier this year, sets out clear goals, decade by decade for the city up to 2050. Feeding in to this will allow the Forum to align with the One City approach, which falls into six priority themes; Health and Wellbeing, Economy, Homes and Communities, Environment, Learning and Skills and Connectivity.
Based on our knowledge of current industry issues, our first session focussed on post-consent delays and discharging conditions. Leading to a healthy debate around these challenges we were able to come up with a number of questions, potential solutions and examples of best practice from other local authorities that will all feed in to an ongoing dialogue around how to improve this process, encourage two way engagement between Bristol City Council’s planning officers and private sector developers. Ideas floated included re-merging section 106 and section 278, providing a standard list of conditions and allowing appropriate conditions to be discharged after development has begun in order to reduce delays.
As this was the inaugural Forum, our second session centred around how the Forum can work to bring the most value for all of us. Future sessions, frequency, attendee list and format were all discussed, leaving us with a clearer picture on our common goal – a development industry that brings Bristol the very best it has to offer, not just buildings but homes, social value, skills development and employment.
Roll on the next meeting in around 3 months’ time…if you’re interested in joining please do get in touch.