I blogged last month about an inspiring community-led scheme in High Bickington, Devon, which has brought villagers together to deliver badly needed housing and workspace for local people.
I was delighted this morning to read the two-page write-up Planning magazine had devoted to the project, following a visit and some interviews organised at the site a few weeks ago.
The link is not yet up on the website, so I can not provide this. But the coverage highlighted the project’s ‘local’ credentials, which predate the Government’s localism and Big Society agendas by the best part of a decade.
It’s great to see the project, and the role of the HCA in its delivery, recognised by the industry. I will try to provide links to the coverage when they are available!
Housing on the Forches estate, Barnstaple
This week’s announcement that the HCA is investing almost £2.5m in a vital estate regeneration project in Devon was particularly welcome.
The Forches estate in Barnstaple is not at the front of many people’s minds when they think about the lifestyle that Devon offers. But the area poses some very real issues of substandard housing, deprivation and unemployment which exist in pockets across the county.
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Images of what Beechfield Avenue, Torquay, will look like (courtesy of Sovereign)
This new computer-generated image reveals in striking detail Sovereign South+West’s flagship environmentally sustainable housing development, which is currently being developed in Torbay.
It reveals for the first time how the homes in Beechfield Avenue, Torquay, are expected to look when complete. The new project will be the first in Torbay to be built to Levels 4 and 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The HCA supported it last year with an investment of £7m.
The images have been rightly described as ‘stunning’ in the local media today. I am looking forward to seeing the real deal when the scheme is complete.
I’ve been sent some pictures of the recent successful installation of a new bridge over the M5 near Exeter, which show the scale and complexity of the job in fantastic detail.
The motorway was closed overnight to allow the new 230 tonne structure to be craned over the motorway near Junction 29, with only a few select people and camera crews looking on.
The cycle and pedestrian bridge at Redhayes was one of a handful of network improvements funded with £5.5m from the Community Infrastructure Fund, which is administered by the Homes and Communities Agency.
It is part of a new package of infrastructure to support the major growth and development planned for the area east of Exeter.
The pictures below are courtesy of Matthew Davison Photography, who also retains the copyright (please credit him if you download them from the site).
New homes at Devonport, Plymouth, where a huge regeneration effort is taking place
I was up at the crack of dawn today to travel to Plymouth, where the city council hosted a day’s session with partners to help it map out its housing strategy.
Having witnessed the scores of partners in attendance, listened to intelligent, high-profile speakers and seen some amazing regeneration taking place, I left feeling impressed and energised by the the city’s ambition.
Attendees included some of the South West’s leading housing figures and the city’s two MPs, Alison Seabeck and Oliver Colvile. They heard from Grant Shapps’ parliamentary aid Jake Berry MP, Chartered Institute of Housing’s deputy chief executive Richard Capie and my colleague Colin Molton about the challenges and opportunities facing local communities.
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Former council leader, now Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has spoken today about how the principles underpinning his Localism Bill can help transform our cities.
Speaking at The Economist’s Liveable Cities Conference, he outlined his belief that the bill’s key principle – handing power to local people – can be used to fuel economic growth in our metropolitan areas. Until now, most things I have heard or read about localism have focused on the impact of its policies on smaller, rural communities. But it is right to point out that local communities can be found in cities, and wherever people live.
So, the principle of giving city halls more responsibility for housing, planning and economic growth is as relevant to Bristol and Manchester as the grass-roots localism in action in High Bickington, Devon, where villagers are developing housing and community facilities which will be owned by a local group.
Victorian Birmingham and its leader Joseph Chamberlain was spoken of to evoke a vision of the city’s great heritage and global importance.
Today’s leaders will soon find out how well localism works in their cities. The full text of the speech, a vision for cities, can be found here.