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
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
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.
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.