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Ian Boyd, Environmental Consultant

Man with a Plan!

Ian Boyd, Environment Consultant

“I was part of the team commissioned to create a Place Plan for Newport, which then became the Shaping Newport project. We were then invited by Isle of Wight Council to work with them in Ryde to develop something similar.

“We reviewed of some of the recent public consultations that had already taken place, topped this up with some more drop-in events in the town and then went on to write the Place Plan for Ryde in close collaboration with the town council and the business association, both really outstanding organizations absolutely determined to create a better place for their community. The Place Plan is very much a live document, designed to be dog-eared and coffee-stained, with bits taken out, rearranged, adapted and improved as projects and programmes progress.

“The Place Plan has a close connection with the HAZ. The great thing about this is that together they can challenge the idea that ‘heritage’ means always looking backwards, feeling obliged to restore something from the past without figuring out why.  Asking ‘what is this important for?’ seems a good way to approach things.

“Ryde is choosing to take on significant cultural assets, big public buildings with a big public purpose, and bring them back to life to support new ambitions and fresh endeavours and this is just fantastic! Ryde has become such a beacon, miles ahead in what they are striving to do for their communities.

“The conservation of cultural and heritage character in a place like Ryde is of course very important and we do have an obligation to protect things of historic significance, but that work shouldn’t be carried out in isolation from daily life. We need to be actively making new heritage every day too. We should be thinking about the quality and resilience of the things that we do in the public and civic realm so that they are the new layers of historic value for the future and the basis for new and useful programmes of work yet to come.

“There are huge development pressures in Ryde, and I hope that designers of new buildings here properly pick up on the way Ryde is working now, on the fact that the quality of the built environment matters fundamentally to the health of everyday life. It has to be a loud and lively discussion and not confined to the dry rustle of committee papers!

“I think it’s really marvellous that Ryde’s HAZ is determinedly ambitious in the things it is trying to do. It will be complicated, and there will be setbacks and pitfalls, and there will always be plenty of people ready to say, ‘I told you so’! But that’s real life and a measure of real impact. Trying to get really useful things done is always risky.

“I have huge admiration for Ryde because it is a place that believes in pressing ahead with its plans instead of shelving another report and calling it done. Bringing new value to these important buildings, breathing life into its High Street, fighting for the best deal it can get for the people who live and work there is making a difference and long may that continue!

“In five years’ time, looking back across the landscape of projects underway, progressing, finished, adapted, altered and improved, I know that Ryde’s dynamic and progressive vision for a better place will be clear and at large in the life and times of its places and spaces.”