I am a little confused. B&NES has just launched an online document that it describes as a prospectus to celebrate the district and its ambitions for the future.
The Place Prospectus it says – is intended as a ‘living’ record to be updated as projects develop, one that outlines the key regeneration schemes already underway and is a vision to realise the potential of the area.
Before l let you read the rest of the press release, l can’t help wondering if this is an early Christmas card from the local ruling powers that be or an alternative version of what will eventually be the Lib-Dem’s manifesto for the May 2023 local elections!
How will this document be used? Who is it aimed at? What purpose does it serve? I have put in a request to talk to the Leader of the Council, Cllr Kevin Guy but – in the meantime – here is the rest of the release. Make of it what you will.
“The document shows how Bath and North East Somerset, part of a sub-region of 1.1 million people, has the potential to make a significant contribution to the subregional economy and – together with Bristol and the West of England – to the recovery of the national economy.
Bath & North East Somerset Council has established the Future Ambition Partnership to work with partners from business, education, health and charity sectors to help shape a shared vision for the area.
Partners from the Future Ambition Partnership including the University of Bath, Bath Spa University and St John’s Foundation have all contributed to the prospectus. It outlines a collective future ambition to create better places, deliver a carbon-neutral economy and be at the forefront of innovation in the 21st century.
The prospectus details how the region’s 45,000 businesses and £4bn a year economy is home to the UK’s most qualified workforce outside of London.
Eighty-five per cent of the UK is within four-and-a-half hours of Bristol and Bath, placing B&NES as an internationally known and well-connected area. Supported by the heritage status of the area, this increases opportunity for business and attracts talent and skilled workers.
The document also showcases the regeneration projects underway including local High Street renewal projects; Bath Quays – the council’s flagship redevelopment project providing office space; and the Milsom Quarter Masterplan which will transform the northern part of the city centre. In North East Somerset, the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone will provide a sustainable and appealing business location supporting around 1,300 new jobs.
There are also ambitious targets set out for energy reduction in the district including retrofitting 65,000 homes to make them net zero, reduce car use by 25% by 2030 by reducing the need to travel through the creation of better walking, wheeling and cycling routes.
Councillor Kevin Guy, Council Leader, said: “We are proud of our diverse and vibrant communities, our beautiful surroundings and the people who live and work in Bath and North East Somerset. We’re determined you will have a bigger say on the issues that are important to you, which is why with our partners we have encapsulated the regeneration projects into one living document so it’s clear what direction we are proposing the district should go in to realise its potential.
“The projects aim to improve our city and town centres, provide new employment and learning spaces, enhance green public spaces and bring cultural activity and events to our communities. We will continue to consult with you about the projects at every opportunity.
“Through green recovery we aim to a build stronger, more diverse and resilient economy to support local jobs and business while tackling the climate and ecological emergency. We also need to work hard to reduce inequality, boost health and well-being and deliver more affordable homes.
“The Place Prospectus is not just the council’s document but rather a partnership approach to laying out the opportunities there are in B&NES. We hope it will serve as an invitation to visit, live, work and invest in our fantastic area and improve it for generations to come.”
Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, said: “The University of Bath is deeply proud to be part of our vibrant and innovative region, and we warmly welcome this initiative and the launch of the place prospectus today. We look forward to playing our part through education and research expertise, and our innovation and enterprise capabilities, to support a sustainable and thriving future for Bath and North East Somerset.”
Professor Sue Rigby, Vice-Chancellor of Bath Spa University, said: “We are all facing challenges that are too big for anyone to solve alone. At the same time, and perhaps more than ever, we can all see that it isn’t just the immediate that we need to address but the long term too. The Future Ambition Partnership is creating a space for thinking and acting on a range of timescales to draw together organisations and people that can make a difference. It is a place to chart a positive and exciting future for Bath with North East Somerset and all the people who make their lives here.”
David Hobdey, Chief Executive Officer at St John’s Foundation, added: “The ambitions underlying the Place Prospectus acknowledge that all of us who live or work in Bath and North East Somerset carry the responsibility to make our communities even stronger. We will only achieve this by working together and I am especially excited by the focus on making our communities fairer, so that we all have the opportunity to flourish and, together, bring the full potential of imagination, creativity and talent in the realisation of our ambitions.”