It’s often when there is a new proposal made for the improvement of a neighbourhood that the various different stakeholders with different interests emerge and potential conflicts can eventuate.
In our neighbourhood there is a proposal being put forward to the community for the improvement of our main street. But what can be seen as an improvement by some is seen by others as a problem.
The proposal is for more public access to the street for outdoor dining, cycling and also widening footpaths. The idea is for more alfresco dining. It sounds like a good idea.
Yesterday there was a consultation held at the local Neighbourhood Centre which Neighbourhood Matters attended. People, especially local businesses, were invited to participate. Many of the local businesses felt that the street improvements would affect their businesses adversely. Some said they were still recovering from Covid and all the recent rain and that works on the main street might make customers stay away making it an even more difficult season for businesses. They also said that the widening of the street would affect parking and therefore limit the amount of customers coming to their stores.
The gathering became slightly heated at some stages but in the end people had their voices heard. Hopefully council can take the feedback and decide on what are the next steps.
What I thought was excellent is council engaging in community consultation before starting the works. No matter how well we think we know a community there are always voices that are unheard and as a result consultation is key to making sure that all voices are heard in a community. Importantly it also is crucial for those making a proposal to change that proposal if a community is against it. It’s not easy balancing all the needs of a community. In this example, we had to listen to locals, cafes and businesses to get the best outcome for everyone.
What proposals for community improvement have been put forward in your neighbourhood? Was there conflict among different interest groups? How was that resolved? Were different voices heard and respected?