About My Castle Gateway

The My Castle Gateway approach in more depth

My Castle Gateway project is designed so that anyone who wants to shape the future of the area can get actively involved. It is underpinned by positive principles: that all of our creativity, local knowledge and energy are needed to make a brilliant and loved place. At the same time, My Castle Gateway has been designed to address widely noted weaknesses with conventional approaches to public consultation.

We’ve outlined above how the project will work in three steps. The design links creative and ongoing public engagement with the formal masterplanning process.

Step 1: Castle Gateway unleashing ideas… using community-led public events to explore what makes the area important and what people would like to be able to do in the area. Leading to: a vision for the area and a collaborative ‘statement of significance’ and ‘brief’.

Building shared understandings
There is never one way of knowing a place. Places are dynamic, they are being made all the time through the ways we use them to live, work, learn and play. Masterplanning processes rely on a ‘statement of significance’ for an area to help designers take into account what matters about the area. Over the summer we will be developing a collaborative statement of significance together. We are doing this through rich public event programme with contributions by organizations, community groups and individual researchers and activists. If you’d like to offer an event, we’d be delighted – do get in touch. We will develop an ongoing summary of ‘what matters’ and create an archive of every event and contribution.

Start early, set the brief
As noted above, conventional approaches to consultation often focus on design options and happen too late for public engagement to fundamentally shape the outcome. My Castle Gateway is based on early involvement and a collaborative process to set the brief the masterplanners and designers will work to address. We will be asking people what they’d like to be able to do in the area to help inform the brief. You can feed in by taking part in public events. Filling in this survey. Tweeting us. Emailing us. Joining the Facebook discussion group. We will develop an ongoing summary of the emerging brief and an archive of all contributions. Including every single post-it note!

For more about the power of a good brief, read My Future York’s Phil Bixby take on why thinking about what you’d like to do – not what you think might be good or what you think other people might like – can be transformative.

Big ideas …but also trying things out
Sometimes public consultation is all talk. In fact consultation is sometimes seen as a talking shop to distract the public while all the important decisions have already been made elsewhere! While talk, ideas, debate and discussion will be crucial, we also want to get our bodies involved too through trying out and modelling emerging ideas. We will cycle through the area to explore routes and potential routes. One early idea for a new use of the area is an outside cinema in the Eye of York area – so we’re aiming to try that out. Another was for early evening events, so thanks to staff at the York Castle Museum we’ve got a brilliant Lates event in the offing.

Step 2: Castle Gateway deepening understanding … collaborative inquires to research key issues and public events to explore, question and discuss. Leading to: masterplan and planning options.

Address issues head on

We know there will be issues where the right decision will not be obvious. There will be disagreement! Rather than pretend there won’t be, in Step 2 My Castle Gateway will address issues head on. We will seek to convene working groups of people that want to research and understand issues better, drawing in good thinking from elsewhere, modelling alternatives and organising public discussion and workshops. This collaborative troubleshooting will then inform options developed by the masterplanning to be shared more widely.

Step 3: Castle Gateway making change together… the formal decision-making process and delivery will be directly linked to ongoing community action in the area. Leading to: formal decision making and a strategy for ongoing involvement throughout the delivery process.

It’s in the detail
In Step 3 the planning will move towards detailed design and specifying the design of any new buildings, of how the roads and traffic flow will work, where footpaths will run, how parking will work, how public spaces and public events will be managed. At this point we need a crack team of people with an eye for detail to spot issues before they arise.

Good ideas don’t need to wait
As the masterplan ideas move toward detailed design and development work starts, there is no need to wait. While some of the ideas will only be possible after the development is complete, many of the ideas that emerge can just start to happen immediately so that we start to make the place we want now.