BIMBY (Beauty-In-My-Back-Yard) Housing Toolkit: supporting community-led planning

 We blogged about the new BIMBY (Beauty-In-My-Back-Yard) toolkit back in November, at the start of its pilot phase. We were delighted to play our part in yesterday’s event showing how The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community’s new online toolkit is assisting communities in having their say on new housing in their area.

HRH The Prince of Wales and Daniel Dodd, National Trust's Communications & Content Director at yesterday's event at St Mary's Works, Norwich

HRH The Prince of Wales and Daniel Dodd, National Trust’s Communications & Content Director at yesterday’s event at St Mary’s Works, Norwich

By 2021, it is expected that the UK will have a shortage of around 1.1 million homes.  There is an obvious need for new housing – for well-designed, quality development that includes green spaces for communities and respects local heritage.

So how can the beauty and diversity of our countryside and heritage be respected whilst meeting housing targets?  We agree with The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community that people power is part of the solution.

People power

BIMBY (Beauty-In-My-Back-Yard) is an innovative new online tool which supports communities in influencing the quality of new developments.  Community groups can use BIMBY to tell developers and planners what they think beauty in their back yard looks like when it comes to new housing in their area.

The resource guides people through three workshops. The end result is a BIMBY Housing Manual that presents the community’s vision for good quality local housing and helps engage developers and planners as all work towards meeting current housing targets.

Evaluating BIMBY

Groups across the country are evaluating the BIMBY toolkit but local residents in Norwich were the first community group to fully try out the resource.  The results of their input towards urban regeneration in the city were seen first-hand by HRH The Prince of Wales at an event at St Mary’s Works development yesterday.  The BIMBY toolkit reflects the Prince’s longstanding belief that people need to play a key part in the planning of their community.

The community consultation defined five essential qualities of Norwich – variety of scale, traditional connections, industrial heritage, ‘a walkable place’ and the River Wensum. Dominic Richards, Chief Executive of the architect-developer behind the St. Mary’s Works regeneration, commented:

“We understand the importance of reconnecting our site via walkways and traditional road patterns, such as lanes between the two churches, and to the River Wensum, which have been lost through previous developments. The thing we love about Norwich is its rich eclectic mix of architecture and we agree with the community this is a key characteristic of Norwich which we will respect in our regeneration plans.”

New buildings to cherish

The National Trust understands the importance of beautifully designed buildings that enhance their surroundings, as our Senior Director, Simon Murray explains:

“This approach epitomises the principles by which we protect the nation’s cultural treasures. We want to help ensure that new building that takes place can also draw on these principles so that communities will love them as much as they love the houses and areas we protect.

“We endorse the Beauty in My Back Yard toolkit. It’s what communities have been crying out for, a way to positively influence the planning process. From our point of view it should help ensure we create new buildings for future generations to cherish.”

Visit the BIMBY website to find out more or to try out the toolkit in your own community.

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