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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
I genuinely thought that by this point we would be knee deep in mud and up to our eyes in lime mortar. Alas, as many of you will know, barely anything has changed since I last wrote. This is why.
We, the trustees of the Charity which owns the site, decided some time ago to apply to a specific fund for our entire project budget. We met the south-east representatives of that fund, outlined the project and were then encouraged to proceed with an application.
Whilst acknowledging that this decision was taken more than a year ago, it’s also worth pointing out that the trustees are unpaid and are giving up their time to work on the funding application.
That application for a modest grant has taken a lot of time to assemble.
We have been delayed in finalising our finding application because we have been careful to select local tradesmen that a) believe in our vision for the site and b) are prepared to work within the requirements of the fund.
It’s true that we could have applied to different funds for smaller amounts however, this would actually have taken longer to complete.
I believe that we have a good chance of securing funding from this particular, though nothing is guaranteed of course.
The trustees and I are grateful for the messages of support that we have received. In particular, we are looking for someone to assist us with our application for Listed Building Consent – if that’s you, please get in touch.
Thanks for your patience, I’ll try harder to keep the updates coming more frequently.
Over the Easter weekend, Triangle volunteers and members of the Folkestone Research and Archaeology Group (FRAG) descended on the Triangle. Their mission: to uncover any history hiding below the surface. The ‘finds’ across that weekend included interesting pottery and glass fragments as well as chunks of ironwork and builders rubble.
Volunteers on the day enjoyed washing the various finds before members of FRAG bagged them up and took them off site for further investigation.
Following the success of this event, we have been able to book FRAG for a return visit on Saturday June 17th and Sunday June 18th. Please join us if you are able!
On Sunday June 11th, we will need a small team to weed and tidy up the site – please let us know by email (email@example.com), or by commenting below, if you are able to attend either event.
The picture accompanying this article is reproduced with kind permission of Ray Duff. You can read Ray’s excellent piece about the first dig here. Our thanks to Alan Joyce and David Paton, form Hythe Civic Society, for introducing us to FRAG.
On two Sundays in December, a mixed bag of young and old, from near and far (relatively in both cases!) arrived at the Triangle to make a start on clearing it.
Overlying the woolly membrane and gravel layer was a mat of brambles and ivy, interspersed with the Umbelliferous weed, Alexanders. A mixture of tools and techniques attacked the growth, the most satisfying of which was a scrub cutter on steroids that zipped into the brambles with ease.
On the more subtle side of the work was the gentle disentangling of the ivy from the delicate stonework that makes up the listed Ragstone wall. Refreshed by teas and coffees, the workers have succeeded in clearing the vegetation and piling it up into several large heaps awaiting removal.
The way is now open to assessing the next steps, including deciding the general overall plan for the Triangle that has potential to be a green place of benefit to its neighbours, passersby, those who would like to enter and spend a while, and for a variety of wildlife and winged creatures.
This time a year ago, the end of our fundraising efforts was drawing closer and our efforts had seen us surpass the 80% marker. In the months that followed, we surpassed our total and our appeal fund stood at £28,000.
As our solicitors began the work to transfer the land, behind the scenes, Andy and I had started to piece together an application for lottery funding. We made contact with the lottery and submitted a project enquiry to them.
The biggest cost associated with the creation of the community garden will be repairing the boundary wall. The recent works to clear the undergrowth inside the Triangle has enabled us to obtain a better understanding of the condition inside of the boundary walls and it’s not looking good. Much of the wall inside has been invaded by ivy, brambles and ground elder. The result is a structure that is fragile and likely to collapse with any level of intervention.
The options available to us are being explored but it seems likely that sections of the wall will need to be taken down entirely and re-built.
Working with the previous owners before the sale was completed, we consulted with SDC on taking down a section of the wall on Windmill Street before it collapsed. The fragility on that section is as a result of a tree seeded close to the wall.
This presence of roots and stumps in close proximity to the wall is repeated in several other locations across the site. In those locations, the wall may need to be taken down temporarily to enable the tree roots and stumps to be completely removed.
The result of the enquiry to the lottery was that they would be keen for us to provide opportunities for volunteers to engage with the heritage of the site and become involved in the works to restore the walls. We support the concept of wall workshops where an expert would pass on skills to volunteers and we will explore how we enable this before finalising our grant application.
Another challenge for us going forward is the level of the ground within the Triangle: in places the level is perhaps at least a foot higher than the surrounding paths and roads.
At some point previously, the land was cleared and shingle laid out on a cloth membrane. The presence of the membrane might restrict our freedom to landscape the site and we may well need to remove it entirely – that’s about 43 cubic metres of material to be disposed of.
The charity that owns the Triangle was formed by Andy Maguire, Jill Stewart and me in August 2015. In 2016, Jill stood down and Jim Twist joined us. The resulting three trustees have a legal responsibility for the running of the charity. At some point in the project we will seek to increase the number of trustees to share that responsibility with a wider section of the community.
So what next? Immediately, you will not notice much happening on site but rest assured that in the background, we will be working hard to finalise an application for lottery funding that will, if awarded, enable the project to proceed further. We are still interested in receiving ideas for landscaping and general planting with the emphasis on native plants and the promotion of wildlife so do please get in touch.
The work of the trustees, donors, volunteers and supporters generally have paved the way in 2016 to the creation of a wonderful community space and I personally am so proud of everything we have achieved. I look forward to 2017 and am excited to see what a difference we can in the new year.
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