Gavin Bridge’s musings on why more people under 35 should get involved in planning

As I reflect on the humbling and also somewhat embarrassing position as number 1 on the Business Insider Magazines Property Power List I’d like to use my moment in the spotlight to highlight some of the issues that are important to me.

In my last piece I spoke about how we can work towards reducing youth homelessness and continuing with a youthful theme I’m really keen to devise ways that we can engage more with those under 35 in the planning process.

Why? Well it’s that very section of our community that is helped, affected and perhaps ignored sometimes as we face up to the real challenges of delivering more homes and healthy workspaces in sustainable locations in a city with little green space or, rightly, an appetite to develop on that green space.

Its no surprise to the reader that developing more densely and sometimes taller than we have before often brings with it conflict with established communities. However it’s my firm belief that we have to do this in our central urban areas to deliver affordable homes of all tenures and the healthy workspaces that those under 35 want to live in, obtain employment in or even run their own business in.

It’s the Bristol dogma of appearing to always be saying no to change rather than embracing it. Is it a problem of those with more time on their hands having the loudest voices?

With age comes experience but it’s is my conviction that by engaging more widely with those under 35 we will deliver better, more thoughtful, schemes with more ambition and yes perhaps even sometimes taller and more dense than we have seen before.

This is the section in our society who have travelled more, embraced different cultures, work flexibly and use different ways of getting around. They are less dependent on car ownership but want attractive, vibrant spaces to own and to rent with secure tenancies, repairs made promptly, more technology at home and workspaces that are convenient, not out of town, with healthy environmentsflexible leases and near to amenities.

The idea of pushing envelopes through neighbours doors asking them to write in with their views feels old fashioned in an age where I don’t think I’ve posted a business letter for 5 years. Using platforms like Instagram, Twitter and propertary consultation and engagement platforms needs to be embraced by applicants and local authority planning teams alike to capture the views, thoughts and comments from those under 35. I have certainly had more engagement (praise and criticism) since using these platforms in my own business and its evident that there is an appetite for wider engagement if we can use the channels more widely that those under 35 in particular have adopted.

I can’t help but think those under 35 will be more embracing of the built environment changes necessary in Bristol and our other towns and cities across the south west as we face up to addressing the real challenge of delivering more sustainably, at a more dense level and yes perhaps even taller than we have before in Bristol. I think those under 35 are less frightened of that step change.

Originally posted by Gavin Bridge, Director of Cubex Land, in October 2019.