During the initial public discussions about the design proposals for the Oxbridge Home Zone, and for the first eighteen months of the project, the residents' response was overall a positive one. But local antagonism towards the scheme surfaced at a late stage. One shopkeeper in particular was especially vocal in his disparagement of the scheme, and started a petition against it. His views were reported in the local press, traditionally critical of any project initiated by the District Council.
It is important to perceive this dissension as 'par for the course' in almost any Home Zone project. Differences of opinion will naturally arise from such projects, and cannot be entirely resolved. Most of the adverse comments about the Oxbridge Home Zone came from car owners and relate to aspects of the project that could have applied equally to any other Home Zone project (such as parking and the perceived loss in value of properties with parking spaces removed to some distance from their front doors). But an equal number of positive comments were eventually reported in the local press, mostly from elderly residents. Very few adverse comments appear to have been made about Bicknell's input, except for the granite bollards, which some perceive as dangerous (to cars, of course), unsightly, and attractive to noisy children and young people as an area to meet and play. Some residents favoured "more trees" instead.
Not every resident will choose to be involved in such a project. It is their right not to do so, but they are often the same people who will subsequently complain about not being consulted. Nevertheless, it has to be recognised that the residents of Oxford and Cambridge Roads did not themselves initially elect to bid for Home Zone status from the government's challenge scheme. Council officers responsible for acquiring funding for regeneration projects, and adept at putting together packages of funding from a number of agencies each with different agendas, identified the opportunity and then found a suitable environment for the project to take place. In Lowestoft , the residents' apparent distrust of anything imposed upon them by the Council was an initial inhibiting factor which had to be overcome by the Project Team.
© Copyright David Briers 2004