Queen’s Crescent Garden – Growing in interest!
The Significance and Potential of Queen's Crescent Garden
During ESJF's initial neighbourhood planning process in 2011 – 2012, community agreement on the significance of the triangle of land, bounded by York Road, Longbrook Street and Queen's Crescent and known as Queen's Crescent Garden, immediately became evident.
Its position in close proximity to important community facilities such as St Sidwell's C of E Primary School, Exeter Mosque, the Spiritualist Church and the shops in Well Street, adds to its potential as a community green space where community events can take place, and it is a significant part of the Neighbourhood Plan's vision for this whole area as the Community Hub, forming the much-needed heart of the community that will strengthen St James' image and identity as a vibrant and diverse community.
The regeneration of a community such as St James requires changed perceptions, and an increase in the confidence of people to invest in the area, whether by converting HMOs back to private family homes, thus redressing issues of balance, or by setting up businesses. As a visually prominent green space, the appearance of Queen's Crescent Garden has the potential to significantly affect perceptions for better or worse.
Therefore, the sad decline of Queen's Crescent Garden with no apparent owner, crumbling walls, accumulations of rubbish and frequent use for antisocial activity, had long been a source of concern and regret, an embarrassingly visible sign of the run-down state of too much of St James. Valiant efforts had been made by Exeter Community Initiative's Harvest Project and the University, both staff and students' Guild, to combat the decline, but a more radical transformation was deemed necessary.
Role of the Neighbourhood Plan: Policy and Project
As soon as the Neighbourhood Plan (http://www.exeter.gov.uk/neighbourhoodplanning) was adopted by Exeter City Council in July 2013, the importance of this piece of land to the community was given statutory recognition in policy EN3 (page 22).
The garden was designated as a Local Green Space, ensuring that the intrinsic community value of the space is recognised and protected now and in the future.
♦ Outline Project Defined
Not satisfied with accepting the status quo any longer, the community identified the improvement of Queen's Crescent Garden as the top priority of all projects desired to improve the neighbourhood. The project is described in the Neighbourhood Plan (page 15).
♦ Project Initiated
Very aware of the trust and expectations of the community since the overwhelming 'yes' vote at the referendum in May 2013, at the first opportunity the Forum's Steering Group set up the Queen's Crescent Garden Project Group, initially charged with the task of 'setting the ball in motion'.
The initial core of SG members appointed sought from the outset to work with representatives of significant local stakeholders as well as Exeter City Council and with Exeter planning lawyer, John Bosworth of Ashfords LLP, whose interest in the Forum's neighbourhood planning initiative had led him to offer his services free of charge, an offer ESJF was delighted to accept.
In order to achieve the transformation of the garden and equally importantly, to secure its management on behalf of the community in perpetuity, the group has identified two stages for the project, the first being the essential preliminary work before the transformation work on the ground can take place in Stage Two.
Over the summer 2013 the group has prepared bids for funding for Stage One and is now delighted to be able to report -
Funding Success marks Turning Point for Queen's Crescent Garden
October 2 2013 was a momentous day for St James as it was confirmed that Exeter City Council's Executive had approved Exeter St James Forum's bid for £10,000 towards Stage One of its Queen's Crescent Garden Project. With £500 already allocated by Exeter University's Street Wise Fund, £4,500 of professional services offered at nil cost by members with relevant expertise, and a bid for the final £1,500 currently being assessed, the Forum is poised to commence the preparatory work essential before the transformation work can take place on the ground.
♦ Stage One – what will it involve?
♦ Setting up a community benefit society (CBS) with directors (or trustees) drawn from permanent local stakeholders who will be responsible for managing and maintaining the garden for the benefit of the community in perpetuity.
♦ Appointing landscape architect consultants with expertise in similar projects. This will be through competitive tender to secure best value.
♦ These consultants will work under the direction and scrutiny of Exeter St James Forum to:
- conduct thorough consultation exercises with the community;
- prepare a concept design for the improvement of QCG securing agreement on the main changes to the garden;
- submit a planning application to Exeter City Council for the proposed changes
- develop a business plan that will identify sources of the major funding that will be required for the transformation work, and will identify opportunities for the community to secure an ongoing and reliable revenue to allow the CIC to manage and maintain the garden in perpetuity.
♦ During this stage it is expected that ECC will commence the Compulsory Purchase Order of the land, and when completed, pass this land to the CIC as the new legal owners of the land on behalf of the community of St James.
♦ Stage One commences immediately and is expected to be completed by end of spring 2014.
If you are a member of Exeter St James Forum this is YOUR project! Make sure you become involved in the consultation exercises and please encourage all residents to become members of Exeter St James Forum so that they, too, are kept abreast of developments and so able to have their say in this most exciting regeneration project for St James – a sign of a brighter future to come.
A number of you have already expressed a particular interest in this project and offered to become involved in various ways. This is greatly welcomed as there will be much to do on top of bringing your ideas and preferences to the consultation events!
About St James Issue 1
CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO VISIT WEBSITES
To adverise your business here and support the high profile Queen's Crescent Garden Project please get in touch CLICK. Just £50 a year! Includes a link to your website and insertion in "About St James" the joint Trust/Forum newsletter delivered twice a year to every household in St James
WELL, WELL, WELL..Find out more about the ancient holy well discovered in Well Street
EXETER St JAMES NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
Following on from a Big Yes vote for Exeter St James Neighbourhood Plan on 2nd May 2013, the Plan was officially adopted by Exeter City Council on 16 July 2013. Find out more in Newsletter 18
The Plan now forms part of Exeter’s statutory development plans and the policies it contains will be used to help determine planning applications.
Congratulations from Nick Boles MP & Right Hon Don Foster MP CLICK