As Bristol’s European Green Capital status comes to an end, the Imagine St Pauls project will live on as an important legacy in 2016, helping to prevent crime and make local people feel safer.
As well as improving public spaces, some of which are dark and poorly maintained, the project will be looking at how to slow cars down, as well as clean up and prevent fly tipping and graffiti. By improving the urban environment, it is hoped that people will be encouraged to use active, greener forms of travel, like walking and cycling.
Dedicated staff from Avon and Somerset Police have been working with the communities of St Pauls, alongside sustainable transport charity Sustrans on the Imagine project, to tackle the safety issues that matter most to local people. It will conclude in April 2017.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “The Imagine St Pauls project is a great initiative bringing together the local community and making the streets a better place for local people. We’ve seen that the physical elements in a community can have a direct effect on the way local people behave in that particular environment.
"In redesigning the area, the aim is to help local people feel proud of their community, taking responsibility for its day-to-day feeling of safety and its long-term sustainability. In recreating the area, it’s hoped this will go some way to tackling the issues that matter most to local people such as anti-social behaviour and speeding.”
During the first six months of the project, there have been more than 800 conversations with the local community, using a range of imaginative and unconventional techniques, including living room tea stops, pop up street events and workshops with local schools, to develop a rich understanding of local issues and how they can be resolved.
Joanne Mansfield, who lives on Thomas Street in St Pauls, which recently had a street pocked installed, said: “A street pocket is a simple idea, but makes a huge difference to local people. Instead of parked cars, an area of the road has been given over to a green space, which has been transformed into a meeting place to talk and laugh, catch up, share experiences, a stopping place to catch your breath, a place to play music, or share tea and cake. There are so many possibilities now we have this community space.
"The Imagine St Pauls project gives me so much hope for the future, as more ideas like street pockets will be explored to enhance the experience of living in St Pauls, making it a place where people connect and take greater care with each other and the environment."
The project is now moving into the delivery phase and will work directly with local people to redesign five ‘priority’ areas voted for by the community: Rosa Parks Lane, Dalrymple Road, St Agnes Park, Grosvenor Road and Sussex Place.
PCSO Jackie Harper who works in the area said: “This project feels different to past initiatives because it is actually taking on board the views and thoughts of the people who live here. By taking part in the workshops and other engagement events, the team and I will continue to build stronger relationships with the local community and connect better with local people.”
Sustrans Project officer Georgie Burr said: “Local people love St Pauls because of the great sense of community, but have also voiced concerns about elements of the physical environment which make places feel less safe for walking and cycling. Issues such as tagging, fly tipping and speeding cars can make streets feel isolated. Rosa Parks Lane, for example, can feel dark and intimidating at night and women especially have spoken up about feeling unsafe using the lane. However, there is a lot of energy for celebrating and improving public spaces like Rosa Parks Lane and St Agnes Park. Working with residents, the next phase is to create designs to bring some of the ideas alive.”
A community event is taking place on Saturday 23rd January to remove tagging in Rosa Parks Lane, followed by design workshops to shape plans to make the lane a place that feels safer for walking and cycling through. Sustrans Project Officer Georgie is working closely with Community Payback, St Barnabas School, Bristol City Council and importantly local residents, to find long-term solutions to maintaining the lane.
Imagine St Pauls has recently been highly commended in the national Public Sector Sustainability Innovation Awards.
If you are a resident of St Pauls and would like to get involved or you would like to find out more about the project, please contact Georgie Burr: email@example.com
You can also ‘Like’ 'Imagine St Pauls' on Facebook and follow @ASPAshley on Twitter for updates.
Posted on Tuesday 12th January 2016