The problem

People living in cities need access to green space and trees for their mental and physical health and nature needs space to thrive.  But green space around cities is fragmented and is often not managed to fulfil its potential for either ecological or human health. It’s hard for local people to make the case for change when they can’t easily see or feel how it could be different.  

The challenge

Would giving an identity to priority areas for land use change in the environs of a city like Bristol have the potential to capture the imagination of campaigners, local residents, decision-makers and landowners to drive a movement for change?

What if …

…we could identify a number of Hope Spots based on data that could be flexed to reflect different criteria for natural regeneration or social amenity?

…we created a campaign tool that brought to life the best possible use of the land around Bristol for a safe, healthy and just future? and we used this vision to inspire people to work together in the Hope Spots to grow food for all and promote healthy woodlands where nature can thrive?

What did we test?

The practical viability of the ‘hope spots’ concept for land use change. We worked with Geofutures to develop a prototype map of candidate Hope Spots which can be adjusted to reflect different priorities in locations in the Bristol and Bath greenbelt. We tested a prototype slide pack, setting out the vision and held a stakeholder meeting to explore the concept.

What we learned

Hope spots and ‘wildly different’ are concepts that resonate with people. We need to give these locations a strong alternative identity and develop better visualisation tools to communicate the vision.

There is a mapping gap between big strategic maps and small scale local plans which can be hard to engage with. Detailed technical data is available but it’s important to fill the public engagement gap with inspiring visuals.

 

What next

Use the candidate list of Hope Spots in the Bath and Bristol area to prompt discussion and focus attention on where best to start to hit both social and environmental goals. 

Explore different creative strategies for capturing people's imagination about the hope spots and their potential.

If you would like to discuss either how this work could be applied in a different context (perhaps weighting criteria differently) or applying not just around but within urban areas, get in touch.