31st May 2012

Transforming Neighbourhoods GeoVation Finalists

Viv Alexander

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be giving you more information on the ideas that are going forward to the ‘How can we transform neighbourhoods in Britain together?’ GeoVation Showcase.   Today, you can find out more about Charting the Coldspot and Sustaination.  If you’d like to see the ideas pitch for a share of £115,000 in funding at Ordnance Survey on 20 June- sign up for your free ticket.

‘Charting the Cold-spot’ wishes to solve the problem of ‘Loss of the High Street’, first at local level in the city of Peterborough, then spreading  this solution to the rest of the UK.  The scale of the problem in Peterborough is it has a 14.7% vacancy rate compared to the national average of 14.5%. Peterborough’s high street  is a conservation and heritage area and the only one amongst 29 in the UK that is considered at risk due to the vacancy rate.  The empty shop units and lack of culture, night-time activity and lack of vibrancy found in Peterborough’s central commercial area has led to vandalism and also it being considered in decline.green festival shop empty

We will solve this problem by reinvigorating empty shops and built environment assets within Peterborough’s  high street. By  increasing vibrancy, energy and the cultural offer and cohesion by literally putting cultural and community ‘coldspots’ on the map and highlighting and utilising their potential.  Using Mary Portas’s latest review on the high street as a base for this idea, the project will ask Peterborough’s community and local artists to create innovative and appealing final products that will engage people with their city.
These final products will be created by executing the solution in the following way:
  • Having several strands of on-line and offline engagement with artists and community groups that will be facilitated by St John’s CIC.
  • Within the project investment allocating a pot of money  towards at least three interventions in the high street,the nature of these interventions would be decided by the results of consultations and online discussions.
  •  Workshops will be conducted by Meanwhile Space and other relevant organisations to help and interested parties. Also by evaluating each of these projects it will provide good value for money and will create an online toolkit to share best practice, help and empower others and their communities.
  • There will be open consultations to put together a map, case studies and also potential projects for transforming the spaces in the surrounding high street.
  • All this resulting in an online resource embedded as part of the St John’s CIC existing website and other social media which will be the results of these consultations, an open forum, toolkit and an OS map of the area.

Keely Mills
Project Manager for ‘Platform Peterborough’

green festival shop full

Sustaination – food enterprise mapping & communication:

There are 400,000 food enterprises in UK alone. Trade is often inefficient.

The rapidly rising cost of food is affecting the profitability of small businesses and the quality/cost of food supplied to public and charitable organisations, e.g. schools, hospitals, prisons, sheltered housing.

Cheaper, better food could be found closer to home, but it is difficult for small businesses to find the time or resources necessary to secure better contracts or market themselves.

High streets turning into ghost towns, at the very time we need to be re-localising our food supply.  £10 spent at a independent high street shop is worth £25 to the local economy. £10 spent at Tesco is only worth £14.

Things need to change.  And they can.

Online technologies are offering new ways of linking these businesses, mapping food webs around our neighborhoods – everything from farmers to shops, pubs and processors and the distributors in between.

Mapping our communities to make the invisible connections in the food chain visible will make us more resilient to a future that is increasingly food insecure. More money will go back into local communities; opportunities for innovation and job creation will be highlighted.  Local economies will be stronger, with re-localised supply chains that make sense – no boomerang commodities or long links.

And that’s just the beginning.

There are three steps to our solution:

  1.  Stage one: Building an extensive food web for the UK.  This will profile businesses, producers and the links between them.  We will make visible what is currently there but invisible – show where the trades are happening.
  2. Get these businesses talking and communicating – linking up and making connections.  
  3. Many possibilities we can build on when we have this information:
  • a. use OS data to create starter packs for those looking to start new local businesses, or improve on existing ones,
  • b. highlight alternative transport links for trade – using canals etc

Ordnance Survey has the geographic expertise and tools that we need to make this happen. 

Georgia Catt

SUSTAINATION: The national local food company