Throughout September and October this year Voist was heavily involved in the running of the Urban Room initiative in Church Street. The Urban Room was set up by the Neighbourhood Forum and supported by local partners such as ourselves, Farrells Architects and The Cockpit Theatre to provide the community with a space to convene, converse, consult and create. With little resources backing the venture, it was a huge success.

After collecting a vast amount of consultation data one thing was glaringly obvious. Everyone in the area was confused and exasperated with the long drawn out talks of redevelopment compared to the little action or clarity on what is happening and when.

For the past few years Church Street has been awash with consultation initiatives, Futures Plan paraphernalia, the voices of various agencies, independent organisations and different council officials, plus many, many, many committee and working group meetings. Yet the most common questions that came up in the Urban Room time and again were – What is going on with the Church Street Futures plan? What’s happening within the Local Authorities? Who is dealing with what? What is to become of the market? Are we all just going round in circles?

Voist, The Cockpit Theatre and the Neighbourhood Forum decided it was important to gather together as many active players to conduct a ‘no holding back’ review of the redevelopment process in Church Street so far.

We felt it important to collectively take stock and review the story so far, critique the process, remind ourselves why are we all doing this – and maybe energise a few common priorities. We wanted it to be a struggle/ share / support session for local “activists” and all those heavily involved in the redevelopment process so far.

And it seemed to be just that. Our gathering of around 40 local activists piled into The Cockpit’s theatre space. The session began with a panel discussion with leading local activists and key agents involved in the redevelopment process. Each were given the chance to talk from their perspective about what they felt has gone right and what they felt had going wrong. We then conducted a group SWOT analysis of the process and tried to determine action points going forward.

It was a lively and passionate evening. Being in the dimly lit theatre created a sense that it was a safe space for people to talk freely and openly about their own experience of standing at the frontline of a major redevelopment process. It was emotional, passionate and we feel, very cathartic.

We will be working on a publication next year that will tell more of Church Street’s story – and how this very unique neighbourhood is working together to play a significant part in their areas future.

It will be well worth the read, we can assure you that. See you in the New Year Church Street.