Two workshops were organised for Hebden Bridge at an early stage of the project. By engaging early on, the community’s aspirations could be written into the project to inform the design process. This contrasts with common, poor practice where the community is consulted after the detailed design stage, when there is far less scope to influence the development.
A very wide range of issues was identified but some key points centred on the need for affordable housing, use of sustainable construction and the need to meet a range of local needs. The CLT has also been sounding out younger people and local housing bodies. A community share issue is being considered as a way for raising funds for the development.
In February 2016, following the pre-feasibility study, CVCLT held more open workshops to test whether there was public support for the proposed housing. The work of the pre-feasibility stage was presented to the people of Hebden Bridge and their views were sought in terms of housing, sustainability, community facilities and other factors. The workshops were well attended and helped to provide clarity on how to move forward.
Potential community facilities were identified by the consultation and these included: workshop/studios, shared facilities such as a laundry, shared building for community use, storage space, park area for children, gardens/green space with trees, covered areas to get out of the rain, fire pit, public art, allotments/orchard, and bike shed.
There were some concerns raised too, and these are being addressed in the current feasibility and design stage: community engagement, what is to be built, the scale and massing, and potential impact on current greenspace, neighbours and townscape, buildability and access issues, environmental issues, and loss of amenity.
The engagement process and general publicity of the project has identified a strong level of support from with the wider community, including CVLT members, the wider public and local councillors.
More consultation sessions took place in early 2017 and a report-back consultation session is planned. In taking forward the project forward, CVCLT has been keen both to consult with the local community, and also to engage them in a process of collaborative design, working with the design team.