National Park and AONB Review

The Government has announced a review of National Park and AONB designations and roles.  Malvern Hills AONBThe terms of reference for the review, that starts in June and will report in 2019, are:

  • the existing statutory purposes for National Parks and AONBs and how effectively they are being met
  • the alignment of these purposes with the goals set out in the 25-Year Plan for the Environment
  • the case for extension or creation of new designated areas
  • how to improve individual and collective governance of National Parks and AONBs, and how that governance interacts with other national assets
  • the financing of National Parks and AONBs
  • how to enhance the environment and biodiversity in existing designations
  • how to build on the existing eight-point plan for National Parks and to connect more people with the natural environment from all sections of society and improve health and wellbeing
  • how well National Parks and AONBs support communities

Expanding on work already underway, the review will also take advice from Natural England on the process of designating National Parks and AONBs and extending boundary areas, with a view to improving and expediting the process.

The terms of reference also state:

“In 1949, the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act established these national parks, which the minister of the day described as “the most exciting Act of the post-war Parliament.” That legislation created a statutory framework for National Parks and AONBs. In brief, National Parks’ purposes are to conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage; and promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks. For AONBs, the primary purpose is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area. Now, as the oldest National Park approaches its 70th anniversary, comes a chance to renew this mission. That is the context in which this review takes place.”

The review will hear evidence from interested groups and individuals.

Quantock Hills AONBFunding of AONBs will be a key issue. Traditionally they have been the poorer relative, dependent upon support and finances from their local councils, whereas the National Parks are nationally funded.  With local government finances under increasing amounts of pressure for the last 10 years and competing demand for resources for education, social care etc, AONBs have really struggled to secure their positions. Many have had to reduce their staff teams and activities down to a basic core. At the same time an inherent conservatism amongst some residents of AONBs, many of whom will have spent significant amounts moving into a protected landscape, have made it difficult for AONBs to diversify their activities and create new economic opportunities. The government’s review is perhaps the time to put AONB funding on a more secure and sustainable footing.

Community Plan update for Lawrence Weston

We’re working with the wonderful people at Ambition Lawrence Weston to update their Community Plan.

Lawrence Weston Community Plan workshopIn March Julian facilitated a one day workshop for local residents and workers. We considered the achievements of the 2013 Plan, the five year context (which you can see on YouTube) and priorities for the local area. There was even a pub quiz on the results of the community survey.

We’re now doing lots of data crunching and preparing a draft of the updated plan. This will go for further consultation and ultimately adoption by Ambition.

Who is the new developer for Bristol Carriageworks?

Carriageworks facadeThe Carriageworks has a new developer!  Following much recent speculation the Carriageworks Action Group has confirmed that the new developer is the Bristol based PG Group. PG have exchanged contracts with Opecprime (aka Comer Homes) to purchase the freehold of the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site and aim to start building in January.

Stuart Gaiger, PG Group Development Director, said: PG Group logo - new developer of Carriageworks“The PG Group has acquired the site from Opecprime Properties Ltd with the benefit of the planning consent granted in July last year, and will now start work on a wide range of preliminary assessments,”

Gaiger went on to say that purchase of the site would allow the creation of a development that could contribute positively to an already vibrant community. “We want to deliver an enterprising development that respects and reflects the community ethos and, given the independent spirit that flourishes around the area, we look forward to some lively and interesting discussions.”

Lori Streich, Chair of Carriageworks Action Group, said: “We welcome this news that PG Group are buying the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site. For over 25 years the communities adjoining Stokes Croft have lived with the neglect and dereliction. As a local developer we hope that PG Group will have the skill and commitment to deliver a development of which the community can be proud”.

Stuart Gaiger and his colleagues from the PG Group will be attending a Community Meeting on Wednesday 14 June, 6pm at the Kings Centre, King Square where they will say more about their plans and proposals to get the development going.

2MD’s Role with Carriageworks Action Group

2MD Regeneration has been facilitating and advising the Carriageworks Action Group(CAG) since it was formed in 2011.

  • We coordinated the consultation and writing of the Community Vision, published in 2012, which was subsequently adopted by Bristol City Council and became the ‘moral high ground’ for all proposals for the site.
  • We supported CAG and provided technical advice while the City Council started compulsory purchase (CPO) proceedings in 2012/13, culminating in the appointment of Knightstone as the preferred developer. However, the site owners then granted an option to purchase to London based Fifth Capital. This put the CPO process onto hold and Knightstone subsequently withdrew. Fifth Capital submitted a planning application in 2014.
  • We provided critique and commentary on the proposals which attracted 1400 objections and a referral by the Planning Committee back to the applicant with an instruction that they work with CAG to address a range of shortcomings. Fifth Capital, to their credit, then constructively engaged with CAG and this resulted in planning permission being granted in October 2015.
  • Since then we have supported CAG in its ongoing discussions with Fifth Capital, keeping the pressure on to ensure that the scheme did not grind to a halt amidst funding challenges.
  • Fifth Capital have now been replaced by the PG Group. We continue to support and advise CAG to help ensure that the development delivers the best outcomes for the local community.


Who is PG Group?

What are PG Group’s plans and timescale?

What’s happened to Fifth Capital?

Ten years on, the Tamar Valley trails are flourishing

Back in 2003 I started working with the Tamar Valley AONB, writing the business plan and funding applications for what would become the Tamar Valley Mining Heritage Project.

Tamar Valley Mining Heritage Project early logoIt was an audacious project, born of a dream to conserve the increasingly forgotten mining heritage of the Tamar Valley and give the public access to the adits, railways, calcifiers and beautiful landscape.

£6m investment in the Tamar Valley

The project finally started in 2007 with £6m from nine funders, seven delivery partners and agreements with multiple landowners. Along the way there were many challenges not least the withdrawal of financial support by a key partner, Devon County Council, straight after the 2009 elections which resulted in another partner, Morwellham and Tamar Valley Trust, being pushed into receivership. The loss of Morwellham Quay from the project was a bitter blow but the hard work and commitment of the AONB and other partners saw the project through and finally in 2013 we saw the official launch.

Tamar Trails are a success!

Now threee years later the project is bedded in.  The project legacy is managed by the Tamar Community Trust, a social enterprise specially setup for the purpose, while the visitor hub is run by Tamar Adventures, a local business that provides cycle hire, high ropes, canoe trips and a host of other activities.  Their video gives a great taste of what’s on offer.

And the project even extended to include a Mountain Bike Development Project and the stomach churning Gawton Gravity Hub (more successful business planning and funding applications).


Sometimes in this line of work it’s hard to point to the difference you make.  The timescales are long, many people are involved, sometimes projects end up doing something different to the initial intent.  But with the Tamar Trails the results and the difference are there and plain to see. Take a trip there and enjoy the place!


Stogursey Victory Hall has funding approved

Stogursey Victory HallStogursey Victory Hall has had £400,000 funding approved by West Somerset Council.  The funding will go towards a major upgrade to the hall including refurbishment of the existing hall, an extension with new kitchen, function room and toilets, new changing rooms adjacent to the MUGA, a cover for the MUGA, car parking and landscaping.

In approving the funding members of the Council said that there had been a very impressive 25% response rate to consultation on the proposals. They added that they felt it was an excellent flagship project which would be of huge benefit to the community and a great legacy.

Funding applications have also been submitted to Sport England and Awards for All.

During 2015 we worked with Vivid Regeneration to prepare a feasibility study for the refurbishment.  We’ve been retained to write some of the funding applications and take the project forward to the appointment of architects.

Lawrence Weston – first step to Lottery funding

lawrence weston community hubLawrence Weston Community Hub has passed the first hurdle on its way to securing Lottery funding from the Reaching Communinities programme.

The funding will go towards the cost of providing community facilities in the building as well as management costs in the first few years.

Now it’s a matter of preparing the Stage 2 bid, and then the Stage 3 bid!

The bid writing is being done by the wonderful Helen Bone at Vivid Regeneration. We’re doing the work on the business plan (as well as overall project management).

About the Lawrence Weston Community Hub

Lawrence Weston Community Hub is a new building that will contain a range of services including health, social, economic and education for the community. It is a project being led by Ambition Lawrence Weston in partnership with the City Council and Ridingleaze Surgery. Planning permission was granted in December and we are now working on securing the funding package before moving to detailed design and construction.


Planning permission for Lawrence Weston Community Hub

Lawrence Weston Community HubResidents were celebrating today when it was finally confirmed that the Lawrence Weston Community Hub has been given planning permission.

The community hub will provide a much needed facility for the 7,000 residents of Lawrence Weston, a large estate on the north west side of Bristol close to Avonmouth docks and the M5.

Over the years the estate has lost many facilities.  When local development trust Ambition Lawrence Weston carried out research into a new community plan it became apparent that the health and wellbing of residents was suffering.  The idea to invest and replace much of the crumbling infrastructure was then born.

New GP Surgery

The Lawrence Weston Community Hub will be developed on part of the site previously occupied by the City of Bristol College. It will include a new GP surgery to replace the one on Ridingleaze, new clinical treatment rooms, a replacement library, a pharmacy, cafe, community rooms, nursery and office space for hire.

Lawrence Weston Community Hub elevations

The planning application was submitted in March but a decision was slowed down as clarification was sought on traffic impacts, noise impacts and replacement trees. Now that permission has been granted the decisions on capital funding can be made, especially by the City Council and NHSE.

Who’s involved in the Lawrence Weston Community Hub?

Ambition Lawrence Weston are leading the project in partnership with Bristol City Council and the GP Surgery / NHSE / CCG.  2MD are providing project management, working in collaboration with Vivid Regeneration who are leading on funding applications. The Lawrence Weston Community Hub has been designed by GCP architects.

Does this change anything?

Last Monday I was asked to facilitate a discussion between the 70 or so people who had watched Naomi Klein’s film “This Changes Everything” hosted by Wiveliscombe Action on Climate.

The film makes the link between climate change and capitalism, essentially saying that the economic system has to change if we are to have any chance of addressing climate chaos. The New York Times described Klein’s book by the same name as “the most momentous and contentious environmental book since Silent Spring” so its clearly to be taken seriously.  But does it really change anything?

In leading the post-film discussion it was clear that we were amongst friends – everyone there was concerned about climate change, shocked by the impact of big industry on local communities and sympathetic to the general message that change was needed.

But one of the down-sides of getting older is that you see the same things coming round time and again. Another film, another talk, another group of people saying that something has to change. But what really changes?

In the 30 years since I first got involved in the environmental movement there has been much to celebrate.  The environment is now of mainstream concern, recycling is the norm, there is no lead in petrol, the concept of environmental justice is understood, river water quality is way better, the ozone layer is repairing itself, the car is no longer king, and so on. The voice of ordinary people has had some part to play in that.

But s*** still happens and seemingly on an ever-greater scale. Communities and environments are still being destroyed, governments back-pedal on the progress of their predecessors, climate treaties get ignored, the rich get richer and so on. And all this despite countless films, marches, letters, blogs and angst.  So what’s the point?

In the discussion I tried to get people to look at Klein’s argument from different points of view – to take a dialiectic approach.  In that way I hoped we’d come up with a more robust response to the film than just lots of nodding and hand-wringing. It drew out some interesting observations and a diversity of responses. But I still went away feeling that nothing had really changed; just a tendency to expect others to agree with us and then change what they do, but little appetite for more.

Some people (not necessarily those in the room last Monday) advocate a complete overthrow of our economic system, the ruling class and corporate power. But that sort of radical upheavel generally brings with it many unintended consequences. Other people propose nudges. One person who was present at the film talked about influencers in society – the people who will push us past the tipping point at which major change happens. People in the arts often take on that role, to greater or lesser effect, but sports people less so (although they probably have the greater reach). But still I wonder.

Are we just on the wrong trajectory? Is everything just stacked up against regard for the environment and communities as the powerful exploit all in pursuit of more wealth, more power, more consumption? Or is there something, some as yet unidentified thing, that we the little people (and little companies) can do that really would change everything.  If there is, please let me know!

And a final thought: Imagine the impact if David and Victoria Beckham traded in all their properties for a passivhaus, swapped their gas guzzlers for an electric car and went on a global pilgramage to persuade decision makers to address climate change. That might change something!


Local groups get £5,000 from Radstock & Westfield Big Local

Radstock and Westfield Big Local Dragons Den winnersTen community groups, charities and good causes have shared £5,000 thanks to the Big Local Radstock and Westfield Dragons’ Den event.

The event was attended by 130 local people and guests.  Seventeen groups had 90 seconds to pitch their ideas, asking for up to £500. Each group was the quizzed by the three dragons: Debbie Ladds from Local Trust, Suzanne Norbury from the Somerset Guardian and Owen Stephens from the Rotary. Local residents were then asked to vote for their favourites.

Breast cancer survivor, Helen Adams, was given overwhelming backing from voters after she was joined by her young children to tell her story and why she wanted to see a Coppafeel day held in Radstock.

Radstock Museum received funding to restore the clock on the front of the museum and pay for a museum café makeover.

A Circus Fun Giant Picnic which will bring together families in Clandown for a Sunday get-together. Performances at Radstock’s Victoria Hall will be more illuminating from now on thanks to funding towards new lighting and young actors from Confessions of the Youth Theatre Company will be making drama accessible to more children by offering affordable sessions.

Mums and babies are also in for a treat when the NCT Baby Cinema comes to offer screening that welcome babies.

Football Friends, a group of young players from Tyning, were given cash to help buy sports and storage equipment to bring together youngsters looking to play the game together while would-be musicians will have a chance to learn guitar thanks to free taster lessons.

Regular Zumba classes will be hosted by charity SWALLOW to give its members with learning difficulties the chance to enjoy the exercise classes.

2MD Regeneration’s role in Big Local

Julian is a Local Trust Rep. Since 2012 he has provided support and guidance to the Radstock and Westfield Big Local Partnership.

Stogursey Victory Hall plans get thumbs up

Stogursey Victory Hall

The people of Stogursey have approved proposals to refurbish and improve the Victory Hall.

Throughout 2015 the Victory Hall Committee has been working with Stogursey Parish Council, West Somerset Council, 2MD Regeneration and Vivid Regeneration to work out how best to improve the 60 year old hall.  After much consultation with local people, groups and businesses the Committee has agreed on three major steps:

  • The old youth centre will be demolished
  • The existing Victory Hall will be refurbished and extended to include a new youth centre, an additional function room, a new and larger kitchen and new toilets.
  • The existing all weather sports pitch will be covered and be extended with new changing rooms.

Chris Ford, Chair of the Victory Hall Committee, said “The Victory Hall has served us well but times move on and the requirements we have of the building have changed. The sports facilities in particular need to be improved and young people also deserve better. The proposals will help provide a 21st century facility for Stogursey and ensure we are a healthy and vibrant community.”

How we worked with local people in Stogursey

In early 2015 we carried out an in-depth consultation with local people.  By recruiting  and training a team of community researchers we were able to door-knock every household in the parish.  Stogursey community researchersWe asked people which community facilities they used, what they used the Victory Hall for, what new facilities they would like and whether they wanted to get involved.
Together with visits to local groups we were able to get 315 responses, representing 23% of the parish population.

The responses informed the proposed designs, along with one-to -one meetings and workshops with local stakeholders, including the operators of other community facilities in the village.

Stogursey consultation cartoonIn the summer we consulted again, this time on the proposed designs.  We delivered a leaflet to every household in the parish, put the proposals on-line, produced a disply and held a number of meetings and drop-in events around the village.  Of the people who responded, over 90% gave their support to the proposals.

Next steps for Stogursey Victory Hall

The next step will be to apply for funding for the works, estimated at £2.5m.  2MD Regeneration and Vivid Regeneration will be retained to work on the fundraising and the process of securing planning permission.

More details including the scheme designs are at