AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND LONGPARISH

AN INTRODUCTION TO JEFF BISHOP

Having been contacted about possibly helping to mediate on the issue of affordable housing in Longparish, I was then asked to send a note saying something about my ‘pedigree' in this area of work. There are three aspects of my work worth mentioning:
 
1. Village Design and Planning

Partly because of my original training as an architect, I am well known as an advocate of local distinctiveness in design. One outcome of this was that myself and a colleague invented Village Design Statements for the Countryside Commission (as was). We then produced the guidance material, ran training courses and continue to support rural communities and planning officers on village design issues. Although I am not a planner, most people think of me as one because I have a lot of experience on planning issues. I have for example just completed a major study on the future of Parish Plans (now or very soon on the Defra website).
 
2. Community Involvement

I have worked for years to ensure more and better community involvement in planning, design, housing, environmental change etc. That includes very practical projects, lots of training and work on overall government policy. I was a key figure behind recent changes to the planning system in terms of greater community involvement, although some things did not come out as I would have wished. I have now carried that through to several small and large projects working within the new system.
 
3. Facilitation

In order to do community involvement properly it is often necessary to bring together very different groups of people to work on issues and hopefully reach some sort of consensus. That requires skill and experience in facilitation of small and large groups; something in which I also specialise and on which I run (with others) regular training courses all across the UK. I have done such work in some extremely high conflict situations on national issues but also on smaller and more local (yet often equally tense!) issues. That also means operating independently and being seen to do so – ie. not managing processes in favour of any pre-agreed solution or group. Given my regular mix of clients - public authorities, private businesses, voluntary organisations, community groups etc. (often at the same time) – I think I manage to achieve the necessary independence.
 
As a long term supporter of strong, vibrant rural communities, I'm looking forward to working in Longparish – and it's already clear that it is ‘vibrant'!

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