What to do in the Christmas holiday

The Winter Equinox. The Roman Saturnalia. The birth of Jesus. Some time off work. What ever it is that you are celebrating this yule season, it is highly likely that during the holiday you will have some time on your hands. I know it’s hard to believe when all around you, people struggle to “get ready for Christmas”, but it will come to pass. Not to worry, television will ease the boredom of midwinter’s cold, short days and we may get a book or addictive video game that will keep us going until New Year.

When even that fails, I’m going to try to involve my family in the real-life Sim City that is the Birmingham Development Plan 2031 consultation. It’s open over Christmas, so that any Brummie who hasn’t found the time to check the twenty-five page document before New Year can make their resolution to do so before comments close on the 14th of January.

The document “will set out the statutory planning framework to guide decisions on development and regeneration in Birmingham until 2031.” so getting it right is pretty important. Here is a quick run down of the plan’s objectives and my initial comments and alterations.  These will no doubt be revised when I consult the family, and I will report those revisions at that time.

• To develop Birmingham as a city of sustainable neighbourhoods that are safe, diverse and inclusive with a locally distinctive character. Good

• To make provision for a significant increase in the City’s population. Yes

• To create a prosperous, successful and enterprising economy with benefits felt equally by all. Also move this to the bottom of the list, let’s plan for a future where the economy is our slave, not our master.

• To promote Birmingham’s national and international role. Keep this in if you think that it’s important but bottom of the list, please.  Below economy even.

• To provide high quality connections throughout the City and with other places and encourage the increased use of public transport, walking and cycling. Better start again with this one:

To provide a high-quality, integrated, carbon-zero transport system throughout the City where walking, cycling, electric rail and water-based public transport and freight remove our reliance on roads.

• To create a more sustainable city that minimises its carbon footprint and waste while allowing the City to grow. Right then:

To create a sustainable city, being carbon zero and as far as possible self-contained in terms of food, energy, water and waste.

• To strengthen Birmingham as a learning City with quality institutions. I don’t think you need a capital C on city there

• To encourage better health and wellbeing through the provision of new and existing recreation and leisure facilities linked to good quality varied, bio-diverse public open space. Group health and wellbeing with transport, all those roads repurposed as cycleways, walkways and public gardens are going to have a big impact.

• To protect, promote, learn from and enhance the City’s heritage and historic environments.

• To conserve and expand Birmingham’s natural environments, allowing biodiversity and wildlife to flourish. See transport and health and wellbeing.

So what do you think?  Have I got it right?  Is there anything I missed?

Don’t rush to answer with the first thing off the top of your head (like I did) but some time over the holiday, perhaps after playing Risk, suggest to those around you a quick analysis of the plan.  Nothing heavy, just a chat about what is important to you about the place where you live.  Answers on my desk by the 15th of January please.

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