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Big Conversation begins on Gloucestershire’s 2050 vision

PUBLISHED: 17:02 01 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:02 01 February 2018

Gloucester (c) miskov / Thinkstock

Gloucester (c) miskov / Thinkstock

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A super city, enhanced regional parks, and a new bridge connecting communities across the Severn were just some of the big ideas revealed at the launch of a county-wide exercise to create Gloucestershire’s 2050 vision

Hundreds of people from across Gloucestershire gathered at Cheltenham Racecourse to kick off the Gloucestershire 2050’s Big Conversation, seeking to engage everyone in the community in creating a shared vision for our long term future.

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of eight ambitions and six big ideas that could transform the county, creating new opportunities and improving the quality of life for all.

The proposed ambitions are:

• A magnet county - a growing working age population, by keeping and attracting more 18-40 year olds with high level qualifications, who want to live and work in the county.

• An innovative county - more businesses starting up, growing, and investing in research and innovation.

• A skilled county - more people with high-level skills and jobs in skilled occupations.

• A prosperous county - rising productivity and household income, offering higher living standards.

• An inclusive county - the economic and social benefits of growth to be felt by all.

• A healthy, happy county - people to have a good work/life balance and to see improved health and wellbeing.

• A connected county - improved transport and internet connections so that people and businesses can connect with each other more easily.

• A sustainable county - more efficient use of resources and more use of sustainable energy.

The big ideas that could help us achieve those ambitions include developing a third centre connecting the communities of Gloucester and Cheltenham to create a ‘super city’. This would include the development of a Cyber Business Park on the outskirts of Cheltenham.

Enhancing the Forest of Dean and the Severn Vale by designating them as regional parks has also been suggested, with the two areas connected by a new bridge between Lydney and Sharpness which would create opportunities for new investment and housing on both sides of the river.

The Big Conversation will run until 31 July 2018, seeking views and ideas from individuals, groups and organisations across the county. Everyone is encouraged to put forward their ambitions for the long term future of the county. What would make Gloucestershire a great place to live and work? What should our ambitions be? What big, transformational projects and initiatives could get us there?

Stephen Marston, Vice Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, said: “The University of Gloucestershire is very excited to be facilitating this ‘once in a generation’ conversation on behalf of Leadership Gloucestershire.

“For all of us living and working in Gloucestershire, this is our chance to shape our future. We are trying to look well beyond today’s concerns, to imagine what life could be like in 30 years’ time. That will help us all work out what we need to put in train now in order to achieve a great quality of life for future generations.

“To provoke the debate and stimulate discussion, we have launched today some proposed ambitions that summarise what we are trying to achieve. And we have launched six big ideas for the sort of transformational projects that could help us achieve those ambitions.

“Now we hope everyone will pitch in with their ideas, hopes and suggestions. The response so far has been fantastic. We hope that individuals and groups from across the county - schools, community groups, businesses, charities and many others - will get involved and contribute their thoughts. This Autumn, we will then draw all the responses back together in a report on what we have learned about our shared ambitions and priorities for Gloucestershire.”

Peter Bungard, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Gloucestershire is a fantastic place to live, work and visit but we are facing some major challenges over the next 30 years. We’re losing 400 18-30 year olds from the county every year whilst the number of people aged over 65 is set to increase by 66.8% by 2039.

“The six ideas will certainly generate some debate but building consensus about the right ambitions for the county in 2050 is arguably the most important part of this exercise.”

Over 30 organisations hosted stands at the event including major local employers such as L3TRL, Renishaw, Safran and Versarien, along with business services organisations such as The Growth Hub.

A range of voluntary sector organisations showcased the value they bring to the county including Caring for Communities and People, Gloucestershire VCS Alliance and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust whilst further and higher education opportunities were represented by the University of Gloucestershire, Hartpury College and SGS College.

Gloucestershire’s thriving arts and culture scene was celebrated by stands hosted by Cheltenham Festivals, Gloucester Culture Trust and The Cheltenham Trust whilst organisations like Rock the Cotswolds and Young Enterprise championed the young entrepreneurs and creative businesses that are challenging out-dated misconceptions of the county.

The Big Conversation is now open and runs until July 31 2018.

To find out more and take part in the consultation, please visit the Gloucestershire 2050 website and Youtube channel.

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