Many residents, when asked “what they love about Sneinton” speak of the sense of community, the multi-cultural diverse demographics and of the large amount of community action that always seems to be going on in the area. But look beyond this first impression and you will find that loads of work still needs to be done for it to be a strong community. Community groups from different parts of the area historically have not gelled, children that go to Oliver Hind youth club do not naturally go to the Greenway centre. Researcher Laura Alvarez recently observed that “One of the assets Sneinton community value the most is the multicultural character of the population. However, cultural segregation came up in research as one of the key challenges for the area. How can the community stitch groups together?”.
The annual Sneinton Festival, the local Councillors and many activists are striving to “stitch” the community together or to build better community cohesion but factors such as deprivation, transient migrant and student communities and the patch-worked geography make the task very difficult… But not impossible..
Could the built up environment be partially responsible for the cohesion (or lack of) of its residents? There are many organisations such as the Place Alliance that understand that “the quality of our built environment has a profound influence on people’s lives and that place quality has a value – cultural, economic, environmental, social – that needs to be recognized by everyone”. In Sneinton the Sneinton Neighbourhood Forum truly believe in this which is why they are determined to have their say and are exploring whether or not the developing Sneinton Neighbourhood plan is the best instrument to achieve this, ensuring that the future development of the area thinks about community cohesion (links to wider area/places for people to socialise). According to the Rosetto Effect study the better the cohesion in a community the longer the life expectancy. Author: Shaffer, Carolyn R., Anundsen, Kristen wrote a book called The-healing-powers-of-community-how-creating-community-can-enrich-even-prolong-your-life. Based on researchers in 1960 who found that there was a strong link between the healthiness of the community members of Rosetto, Pennsylvania and their strong sense of community and camaraderie. When this eroded by the ’70s, the health of the people also deteriorated. The Rosetto findings show that interpersonal support may prolong life and may even save it. The life expectancy of Sneintonians is 10 years below the national average. This is incredible for an area so strong in community activity. So why are Sneintonians dying so young?
Neighborhoods are geographically localised communities and often social communities with considerable face-to-face interaction among members. They are more than roads and buildings its the people (community) that make a neighbourhood.
The Our Sneinton project has picked up on the fact that in Sneinton there are very few public places in the heart of the neighbourhood that encourage social interaction. Sneinton residents can no longer get support from local Councillors to put on events on Sneinton Market or the King Edwards Park although they are both very much a part of Sneinton historical identity. The reason for this is that these are now in the St Ann’s ward. Intrinsically, the largest community group that operates from King Edwards Park and Sneinton Elements is called STOP (Sneinton Tenants Outreach Project). In terms of Sneinton cohesion this is not helpful. If divide and rule is the process of “gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy, could this be the reason why there has been resistance to the Sneinton Neighborhood Forums proposed area of Designation where formal or informal networks of community based groups have operated and forms a clear boundary that include these key sites of social historical identity? Hence “When Sneinton is not Sneinton”
One of the purposes of the Our Sneinton Project is to support the Sneinton Neighbourhood Forum to build evidence to support the developing Neighbourhood Plan so the final part of this blog will provide a brief update.
Sneinton Neighbourhood Forum (SNF) is open to anyone who lives or works in the area. The Forum formed in December 2013 in order to discuss the idea of a Neighbourhood Plan for Sneinton and to promote and improve the social, economic and environmental well-being of the area.
When Sneinton is not Sneinton. The Forum and Plan Area were officially ratified by Nottingham City Council on 24th February 2015, making us the first Neighbo-urhood Forum in Nottingham! Our original Plan Area included the Creative Quarter and Sneinton Market within its boundary. However, as you look at the designated Plan Area (below) you will find that part of the Creative Quarter and Sneinton Market are no longer part of Sneinton’s Neighbourhood Planning Area. This decision has come from Nottingham City Council. SNF have thought long and hard about appealing this very decision however, recent case law in other areas of the country has shown us that this can be a long, costly and unsuccessful process. If you/your business previously fell in our boundary but no longer do so we would love to hear from you.
So “what next” for the Forum? They are still committed to enabling residents, local businesses and groups to come together through meetings (and online) to discuss local development and planning issues, share information and meet with elected representatives and officers responsible for planning and other local public services.
Together, with the support from the Our Sneinton team the Forum will develop a draft Sneinton Neighbourhood Plan, based on the views of Sneintonians which will ultimately become part of the Statutory Development Plan for the area (if it gets approved by Sneinton residents following a referendum in 2017) and will ensure that the views of Sneinton residents are considered in the future planning and development process.
The Plan will set out what the local community requires in terms of building types, their location and appearance in the future. It also deals with the spaces and places in the area such as our streets and squares.
If you care about the Sneinton area and want the chance to get your ideas into the Plan please get in touch. You can also get more updates through the Our Sneinton Newsletter. (Issue 2 OurSneintonNewsletter02-WEB) or you could attend our last ‘Our Sneinton’ event (below).