The makings of a plan!
So here we are! 2 months of consultations, with post-it sessions reaching around 30 Watchet groups and around 200 people, together with questionnaire feedback, visitor postcards, videos and public drop in sessions have left us with a pretty clear idea of Watchet’s shared priorities.
It’s fair to say that we were bowled over by the sheer positive enthusiasm of pretty much everyone we talked to; Watchet really is a forward thinking cohesive community. We are hearing the same thing over and over again. Celebrate the great things Watchet has to offer, build on the assets that Watchet already has, don’t impose something that is not in keeping with Watchet. ‘Steeped in Watchetness’ is our new favourite phrase. So that is what we want to do, keep Watchet Watchet, but enhance it, support it and help it to grow.
With this in mind we took your suggestions from the post it meetings and the questionnaires and the post cards and the videos and the drop ins. We separated the post its into physical ideas like ‘Cinema’ ‘Community Hall’ from the ones with objectives like ‘support young people’ and ‘create a buzzing vibe’. We created a list of the objectives, weighted them in order of how many times they had been said and from that created Community Objectives. They are as follows:
Watchet Community Objectives:
Create more for visitors to do (Tourism)
Meet the needs of the community, including young people (Community)
Generate jobs and enterprise (Jobs & Enterprise)
Deliver improved public space (Public Space)
Enhance the arts/cultural offer (Culture)
Enhance the marina/maritime offer (Maritime)
Exhibit high quality, sensitive design (Architecture)
Improve cycling/walking infrastructure (Pathways)
Celebrate the coast, heritage, geology of town (Heritage)
Retain and build on the unique vibe of the town (Vibe)
Effectively market/brand the towns offer (Brand)
Improve parking and traffic management (Parking)
Enhance Civic Space (Civic)
These form our guiding principles, and our proposal will seek to deliver these wherever possible.
We then split the top shared physical priorities, the ones that were actual things into four areas, where we believed they most ‘fit’. Broadly, East Quay for visitor and cultural activities, the Cross area and boat museum site for historical and heritage ideas and the Youth Club site for Community activities. This division was also guided by the feedback from consultation. Coastal pathways and footpaths were also clearly a top shared priority and so forms part of our early outline proposal.
And so we have the makings of a plan! This is where we will begin business planning from. We will now begin the process of working out how much space these ideas would need. Is there enough demand and need for these things? Would they be financially resilient in bad economic times as well as good? There are still too many ideas, and some will likely fall by the wayside, but we are now able to start visualising what might be.
Our funding will pay for architectural drawings for one scheme, so we also have to assess which scheme is most achievable at this time and fulfils as many of the objectives as possible. Again, we will of course look to take all the projects forward in the fullness of time. But we have to prioritise, and it has to be led by the strongest business plan, with the least risks and the most community improvement impact.
The illustrated proposal capture everything, so for a more detailed look at our first outline proposal have a look at our Prezi presentation which is available via this link. (it is well worth a look!)
We are now going to put our nose to the grindstone and spend the next few weeks deep in business planning. We are also investigating quality architects that could deliver a development that really celebrates Watchet. Please do continue to be involved in this project, all your thoughts and insights are very welcome and needed. Contact us via facebook or twitter, email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or pop by the office. We’d love to see you.