Thanks to the hosting by IPUP (Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past), the meeting yesterday evening was a huge success. There were about 50 people who turned up. Martin set the context by showing what YAH has been doing, how we like to engage with the public and how we might be about ‘dissent’ but that it emerges from mainstream society.
Helen introduced the Living with History project, which is concerned with how heritage fits into the decision-making process, how that process works and how we ( i.e. the general public in York) might improve that. How can we make good decisions out of complex and messy issues and what would count as a good decision?
Using pending decisions to be made about the buildings at Stonebow House, she stimulated a lively debate and multiple conversations around the room. We will be able to use the ideas generated in getting this project off the ground in a bigger way. Many thanks to the generous participation of those who came along.
In the interests of transparency, what follows is the unedited raw data generated from the flip charts at the end of the meeting, expressing concerns about the Stonebow site itself, the values and issues involved, and concerns about how decisions are made:
- What would go back?
- Story of site and architecture
- Why not suitable letting?
- Is it useful?
- It’s an example of its type?
- Parts in use e.g. York Music Scene – where would they go?
- Affordability for users
- Opportunity for something new e.g. green space
- What is the current allocation on York City Plan?
- Are decisions therefore limited?
- What consultancy has there been?
- There is a different York constituency involved – is this perceived negatively?
- Who values it?
- How is it valued?
- How is value measured?
- It is difficult to get people involved until too late
- There are 300 community organisations offering a potential way in to effective consultation
- People are directly involved – what do they want?
- It is not just about buildings
- What about housing needs
- There is a sense of a ‘democratic deficit’ in that the consultation processes adopted appear alien and false (i.e. not actually listening, just going through the motions)
- What was there before and why was it changed?
- What is the relationship of the specific site to the wider locality
Proof positive, if it were needed, that, as YAH tries to highlight – past, present and future are live issues and go beyond mere ‘preservation’ into the daily lives and concerns of people here and now. There will be more to come. Watch this space!