Autumn 2021 Update

Since we published our Interim Management & Maintenance Plan in June this year, we’ve hosted regular weekend gardening events with the main aim of clearing invasive vegetation.

Our first gardening event was held on July 11th, and we have met most weekends since. As you can see in the photos, our dedicated volunteers have done marvellous work.

We’ll be scaling back our works over winter but we’re still aiming to meet every other weekend.

Managing the vegetation on site will enable us to assess the condition of the wall, something we’ll be doing with a local contractor in the coming weeks.

Everyone is welcome at our gardening days and we always have jobs for people regardless of ability. Keep your eyes peeled on our Facebook group for details on when we will be meeting next.

April 2021 Update: Trustee Recruitment and Listed Building Consent

Not long after our last update we were plunged into another lockdown aimed at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus. As I write this, the lockdown restrictions have eased and it’s possible to meet up with friends outside but the rules still prevent more than two households meeting up outside.

This has undoubtedly hampered our ambitions on site but we will be bounce back stronger when the restrictions are further eased, and we can get back to group meetings on site.

We’ve obtained listed building consent and we’re about to go out to contractors for prices for repairs to the wall, starting with re-building the wall on Windmill Street.

We’ve already spoken to two brilliant Kent-based contractors but if you’re reading this and know someone who specialises in rag stone wall repairs – get in touch!

We’ve also decided to look for up to two additional trustees to support our efforts – you can find the role description and an application form below.

Our trustees oversee the Triangle project and they’re responsible for delivering on the aims of the charity: to protect and conserve the site’s history, and to provide a space for recreation.

Trustees apply for Listed Building Consent

The trustees met this week and finalised details for an application for listed building consent. With consent in place, we will be able to press ahead with much-needed repairs to the boundary wall using traditional materials and to a standard agreed in collaboration with the planning department.

Crispin Davies and Terry Ellames joined us as trustees in July 2020 and have been instrumental in guiding us through the process of assembling the application.

Crispin, a former planning officer and Chair of Hythe Civic Society said:

“This is a milestone for the project and enables the Charity to begin to fulfil its obligations to preserve the historic Grade II listed boundary wall. We are very grateful to local specialist Rebecca Cook[1] for her support in putting this application together.”

Terry, also a former planning officer, said:

“We are obliged to seek consent because of the site’s Grade II listed status. Once approved, we will seek to appoint a contractor to carry out the works to a very high standard according to the consent.”

The Charity’s chair, Andy Maguire, said:

“The project has always received a high level of support from the community in Hythe and beyond. Our project seeks to restore and conserve the site’s heritage whilst providing a community garden. To achieve this, we will need to raise additional funds and we are confident that this support will be forthcoming.” 

The application has been submitted to Folkestone & Hythe District Council and details will be available on the council’s website in due course.[2]

Footnotes:

[1] Rebecca Cook is a specialist in the conservation and repair of historical buildings and monuments. Rebecca has been extremely supportive of our endeavours to protect the wall and has written a number of reports to support our listed building consent application. Rebecca’s website showcases a number of projects she has worked on https://www.rebeccacook.co.uk/.

[2] An application for Listed Building Consent has been submitted and is in the process of being validated by Folkestone & Hythe District. Once validated, the application will be determined in accordance with the council’s scheme of delegation. We understand that Hythe Town Council will be consulted and that the application will be open for public comment.

The Triangle is a former animal pound owned by Hythe Triangle Community Garden which is a charity registered with the Charity Commission, No. 1163141. The trustees are Alyson Ward, Andy Maguire, Ashley Tanton, Crispin Davies, Julie Abbott and Terry Ellames.

December 2020 Update

The first meeting with the 4 new trustees was in August.  Since then the trustees have met in September, October and in December.  

The main work has been:

  • A soil test has been commissioned and received.
  • Work towards a Listed Building application to consolidate and rebuild the walls has commenced.  This includes a pre-application discussion with FHDC staff in December.  An application will follow this discussion.
  • Several local contractors have been approached for estimates to clear invasive weeds, remove the membrane that covers the site and to carry out works on the wall.
  • Some funding has been obtained for the above work but significant funding remains to be found to complete the works and a long term plan for the site.
  • Agreement of a set of overarching principles for the design of the site which will enable the trustees to ask the community to submit its feedback and ideas in the New Year.   
  • Encountering the inevitable administrative issues of running a charity – a new risk assessment has been put in place, banking arrangements have been reviewed and a draft management and maintenance plan considered.

The trustees will meet again in mid-January 2021 and will provide feedback to the community.

August 2020 Update

Following a great response to our recruitment drive, the Charity is pleased to announce that we have appointed 4 additional trustees to lead our organisation and the project to transform the Hythe Triangle.

We were fortunate to have a strong field of candidates and we interviewed 8 individuals in total. Each one had the skills, experience and motivation to take on the role.

New Trustees

Alyson Ward, Crispin Davies, Julie Abbott and Terry Ellames have joined Andy Maguire and Ashley Tanton as Trustees of the Hythe Triangle Community Garden.

The Trustees had their first meeting on August 01, 2020, and made a number of decisions that are critical to the future of the project, including a potential sale of the land.

Faced with two offers to purchase the Triangle, the Trustees agreed unanimously that the interests of the Charity are better served by us keeping the freehold of the site.

The Trustees also agreed to work on an engagement strategy, and have identified a number of potential sources for funding.

We will, of course, continue to rely on the community support that has been so forthcoming in previous years.

We will continue to publish updates right here and on our Facebook Group.

Notice June 16, 2020

Since the notice was published on June 5th, a number of interested parties have come forward with viable options which would enable the continuation of the project, including applications for the trustee vacancies.

This renewed interest is most welcome and we have seen fit to extend the deadline for offers or trustee applications to noon on Friday 26th June.

The trustees will then undertake vetting of candidates in accordance with Charity Commission guidance and hope to appoint successful candidates thereafter. The new trustee board will then meet to determine how to proceed with the project.

We will make available further information to the public when necessary.

Finally, the trustees also seek to assure interested parties that the earlier decision, to seek consent to wind up the charity, has not yet been implemented.

Notice

At a meeting of the Trustees on June 4th, 2020, the Trustees agreed unanimously to seek consent from the Charity Commission to wind up (close) the Charity.

Edit: We are still interested in recruiting new trustees however, we need to impose a deadline for completed applications of noon on Friday 12th June. You can find the application forms here.

For more information, see the public notice and minutes of the meeting, linked below.

The Future of The Triangle

The public meeting held in February now seems like a dim and distant memory. The coronavirus came along and swallowed up two months and counting.

The day before the meeting, I learnt I was being made redundant. As you would expect, my focus at the moment is seeking work to keep a roof over my head. A task made all the more challenging by the coronavirus pandemic. You will perhaps understand that I must dedicate my time to other endeavours right now.

Andy too has other things on his mind. His daughter literally on the frontline of the NHS, working as an intensive care nurse on a covid ward.

We’ve also seen comments from two neighbours of the site on Facebook which were overtly critical of Andy and me. That criticism made us wonder whether there are perhaps other people who are more able to push the project forward.

It was with good intentions that we continued to pursue the project after we’d secured the land. Perhaps that was a mistake but we are confident that our efforts saved the site from development.

So what now?

Andy and I would like to recruit new blood to the organisation. We need a minumum of three new trustees to come forward to join the board of trustees

Now it’s over to you, the good people of Hythe and beyond, to step up and take the project forward.

Person Specification

You can find out more about the skills we need on the attached Role Description document. To apply, download and complete the application for linked below and either email it to hythetriange[at]g mail.com or drop off at 20 St Leonard’s Road, Hythe. If you need assistance, please let feel free to message us via facebook or email us.

Links and attachments:

Charity Commission Guidance: The Essential Trustee (CC3)

Charity Commssion Guidance: Finding New Trustees (CC30)

Public Meeting February 2020

Since securing the site several years ago, Andy and I have struggled to maintain the initial momentum that resulted in the successful purchase of the site. Despite both of us moving away from our old homes neighbouring the site, we are both very much committed to doing everything we can to push the project forward.

The purpose of the meeting was to examine what support existed in the community and also to see what others were willing to contribute to help us with the project.

The meeting was attended by around 40 people, and most attendees put themselves forward to join our “Friends Group” – which we’ll be setting up shortly. We also asked for people to consider joining the board of trustees, assist us with publicity and support our physical efforts to manage the site.

After a potted history of the project, and explaining the support we needed, we opened the floor to questions.

A snapshot of the meeting

The pound gang

This is not intended to be a verbatim record of the meeting, instead we’ll cover the main points of discussion.

We were asked to set out the costings for the project, including any purchase costs. We raised £27,000 from community donations. The owners of land sold it to us for £5,000 less than they paid for it. We estimate the refurbishment and basic landscaping will cost £80,000.

We revealed that we have not developed a plan for the site. We have been concentrating our efforts on securing funding for the main works which need to take place. However it was suggested that we should formalise a plan for the finished project to put to potential funders which would stand a much better chance of success. As an outline of the works involved, we need to reduce the mean ground level within the site, restore and, in places, dismantle and rebuild the wall. These aspects alone account for much of the £80,000 figure mentioned earlier.

An initial assessment of our draft application to the Heritage Lottery Fund was carried out by a funding mentor provided by Funding4All. It revealed that we were not presenting enough information about the history of the project. We have approached the Hythe Civic Society to support our efforts in this area and our initial discussions have proved to be very promising.

One attendee stressed that she had always known ‘The Triangle’ as ‘The Pound’ and it was important to her that this was kept as part of the name. There was some discussion on this and is was agreed that we would look at how we could incorporate ‘The Pound’ back into the project.

There was general agreement in the room that the site’s heritage is a serious and overriding aspect of the project. We agreed that those moving the project forward would have a responsibility for securing not only the heritage but to actively promote it at every stage. This responsibility is set out in black and white in our governing documents.

1. To promote the conservation and protection of the Grade II listed former animal pound in Hythe, Kent

2. To provide facilities for recreation or other leisure time occupation by providing an area for use as a community garden and other activities for individuals in Hythe and the surrounds

The aims of the Hythe Triangle Community Garden charity

Having set out the aims of the charity, we asked attendees whether support remained for an open and accessible community space and everyone present agreed. Some neighbours present in the room expressed concerns about potential anti-social behaviour and it was agreed that these concerns would factor within our development plan.

We were asked about involving local schools. We have spoken previously with the head teacher at Hythe Bay who, whilst expressing an interest, confirmed that more detail on our proposals would be necessary before a link can be forged. It is clear to us that the site must be made safe and so the logical point to involve schools is when the walls have been repaired and the ground levels adjusted.

We have come to realise that there will not be single design for the site that will please everyone. There was a feeling amongst the majority that the site should be semi-wild but managed to attract the maximum biodiversity as possible but also remain accessible to those who wish to enjoy it.

At the end of the meeting, it was suggested that a number of local firms ought to be offered the opportunity to become involved in the project either by sponsorship or other means of participation. This will form part of the discussion of our next meeting.

Physical aspects of the project

It might be useful to explain the physical aspects of the project. Each will require significant funding.

  • Several tree stumps remain around the perimeter – these need to be ground down in order to enable the wall to be rebuilt
  • Lowering of the mean ground level by removing the added-gravel and membrane, and possibly more of the surface
  • Restoration and rebuilding of the wall
  • Soft landscaping

Volunteers

A key part of the meeting was Andy and I asking for help. Almost everyone who attended signed up for something. Most people added their contact details to the “Friends Group” list, whilst others offered to take a role as a trustee, or provide other support for things like activity days and publicity.

Actions to be taken

  • Assemble a core group of individuals to formulate a development plan
  • Arrange a meeting of the core group to take place in March 2020.
  • A number of people self-nominated at the meeting, and we have received nominations from others too
  • Publicise the gardening events which are planned to take place on 23rd Feb and 1st March between 10.30am and 12.30pm.

and finally…

Thank you to Howard, Sian and Crispin for their help to set up and record the meeting and thank you to Hythe Salvation Army for allowing us to use their venue.

This article was updated on 21/02/2020 to confirm the price paid for the land was £27,000.

Is it you we’re looking for?

As many of you will know, The Triangle is owned by a charity, registered with the Charity Commission as a “Charitable Incorporated Organisation” (CIO). The charity has two trustees – myself (Ashley Tanton) and Andy Maguire. The trustees are legally responsible for the running of the charity, including its finances and any assets (I.e., the land itself).

Andy and I set up the charity and, with the support of previous trustees Jill and Jim, successfully raised the funds needed to secure the site and complete on the purchase.

Having reached that milestone, we are looking to recruit new trustees who will take the project forward to the next milestone – creating an open and accessible public space.

The Charity’s charitable objects mandate that the site must be open to the community but how that stage is reached is up to the trustees. So really, the site is a blank canvas.

The challenges for the new trustees will be securing listed building consent for the wall repairs, securing funding for the wall repairs and generally creating the garden. The reward for that work will be seeing the transformation of the site.

If you are interested in becoming a trustee, we suggest you first read “The Essential Trustee” over at gov.uk (linked below) then email us via hythetriangle@gmail.com or message us through our Facebook page.

If you have contacted us previously about becoming a trustee, you don’t need to respond to this ad as we will contact you separately.

https://www.gov.uk/…/the-essential-trustee-what-you-need-to…

Please note that, as well as any statutory requirements described in the gov.uk link, it is a condition of the charity’s public liability insurance that trustees “have not been convicted, or charged but not yet tried, of any criminal offence other than a motoring offence” and “have not been declared bankrupt, disqualified from acting as a company director, gone through insolvent liquidation or been the subject of receivership or an administration order” so please bear this in mind before you consider the role.