Penzance does things differently…

It does – and it’s getting noticed for it. It’s a place of many firsts, from the reporting of Nelson’s death and Humphry Davy’s inventions and discoveries … to becoming the first place in the UK to take a bold stand on single-use plastic and also one of the first Transition town’s in the UK.

In recent months … quietly and behind the scenes … the town has achieved another first. One that could have far-reaching and positive effects on its future.

It started when Penzance was named as one of a handful of locations across the UK that could bid to the government’s Town Deal Fund. The fund has up to £25m available to support regeneration and the local economy.

So far – so normal. Government makes money available. Government sets traditional economic outcomes, based on perpetual growth and infinite extraction.

What Penzance decided though, was to do things differently. There are constraints in the remit obviously … but where a new way of thinking and decision-making can flourish, it is being listened to and given weight. The result is a Town Deal Vision that puts a sustainable community at its heart. One that puts people and planet first in decisions, and that’s made sustainable development its golden thread. That’s economic sustainability as well as environmental.

In a first for the UK, maybe the world, the PZ Town Deal Board came up with a decision making tool and scoring system for projects that combined Doughnut Economics and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Not sure what they are? Summed up:

Doughnut Economics mean we have an economy that hits a sweet spot that provides people’s needs without overshooting the planet’s capacity to support life.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 17 aims to enable prosperity while protecting the planet.

All projects which come to the board are looked at through this lens and, while there are traditional economic boxes to tick for the powers that be, there is a huge will to lead the way in a new way of looking at regeneration and economic development. A way that doesn’t impact negatively on the environment and supports people, their livelihoods, opportunities, health & wellbeing and connection to place. It is already apparent in the projects coming forward to the fund and the questions and information being asked of them. It won’t lead to perfect projects and a perfect green vision– but it is a small step in the right direction. Which is always positive.

Watch this space. Decision Making is one of our ten themes and we cannot create a future that supports us without decision-makers stepping up and backing a different way of looking at the town and delivering for it. We will continue to ask them to do so.

You can read more and get updates on the Town’s Fund for Penzance here