Green Apple Award 2016 – International Recognition
H&G Canal Trust has won an International Green Apple Award 2016 for the Built Environment and Architectural Heritage. The Award was given for Dymock Partnership Project.
The Project, a partnership between H&G Canal Trust and Dymock Parish Council, and supported by Two Rivers Housing Association, Designers Tony Gee and Partners and the landowner, Tomack Developments, was formulated carefully to meet requirements of all four parties.
The purpose was to create the Canal Basin in the centre of the village combined with much needed community benefits for Dymock village in the form of additional parking, a play area, a new footpath, a greatly improved public environment and, most importantly, twenty new houses, mostly already occupied, to accommodate the increased population essential to protect the village school, the community-owned pub and other village facilities.
We are most grateful for the support of our long term partner Keyway in constructing the basin, and after its completion H&G CT volunteers planted over 500 trees together with native wildflower mix and wild daffodil bulbs, rescued by H&G CT volunteers from the site before the development began. In the next few months H&G CT will be working with the Parish Council to install benches and complete the landscaping around the basin, and we shall also be installing both a 65m deep borehole to provide a long-term top-up water supply and an overflow channel for the basin.
As part of the deal, one of the houses was purchased at cost price by H&G CT for renting out, to provide an income stream for the maintenance of the Canal. This is in line with H&G CT’s plan to provide a financially sustainable independent Canal which does not require support from public bodies or other charities for its future operation and maintenance, but can be enjoyed by everyone. In addition the five Open Market houses pay an annual sum towards the upkeep of the Canal.
The site for the Canal Basin and new development was previously of no value to the community but has become a major asset. All parties have gained through the success of this collaborative project. The complex legal process required to bring this to fruition over nearly eight years required a huge commitment to best practice by senior personnel: in H&G CT the professional legal advisers were led by David Penny, a committed full-time volunteer. In Two Rivers Housing Association, senior staff were also committed to the success of the project, and Tomack Developments together with the builder, GP Thomas, overcame numerous obstacles to achieve success. The Chairman of Dymock Parish Council was supportive throughout, and his members were also determined to achieve the promised benefits for the whole Dymock community.
The Dymock Partnership Project was one of more than 100 nominations for the Green Apple Environment Awards for 2016, part of the international campaign to find the greenest companies, councils and communities.
This is the second time H&G CT has won a Green Apple Award – we were a Gold Award winner in 2014 in the Eco Tourism category for our work, in particular, at Over and The Wharf House.
First Phase at Dymock completed!
Dymock Parish Council wanted affordable housing to keep Dymock a vibrant community and ensure the survival of the village school (and other facilities including the community owned public house) plus a new car park to meet a long-standing severe shortfall in the village. The H&G CT wanted to start reconstructing the Canal through the village (on a long-identified essential diversion route) and a new play area created to partly replace one on the diversion line elsewhere in the village and a new footpath to the church and pub. There was no suitable site for an economically viable housing development within the village development boundary.
A partnership of H&G CT, Dymock Parish Council, the Housing Association and landowner Tomack Developments succeeded in eventually obtaining planning permission for a 20 house development on an ‘exception’ basis (solely because it facilitated the reconstruction of the H&G Canal) even though it was outside the normal development boundary. It was approved thanks to exceedingly strong support from Dymock Parish and Forest of Dean Councillors.
Benefits for Dymock:
Our successful partnership with Dymock Parish Council, the Housing Association and particularly the support of landowner Tomack Developments and the ongoing support from Keyway has produced significant long lasting benefits for the village and the H&G CT. All the time and effort in pursuing our ‘different approach’ has brought long-term benefits not just to the H&G Canal but also to the community. The support and understanding of Dymock Parish Council and many of the residents has been of tremendous assistance throughout. The Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust looks forward to a continuing partnership with the Parish Council on subsequent phases to complete the Canal through the village.
Great Progress at Dymock!
As the photographs show, the towpath bank had taken shape and the electricity cable has been moved into its new location beneath the bank. We were grateful for the assistance of the house builder, GP Thomas, in achieving those steps.
Unfortunately, the next stage of building the Canal on this site has been a constant nightmare in trying to co-ordinate delivery of suitable material to build the rest of the embankment. After long delays, substantial volumes started to arrive on site at the end of April, and in May the Canal banks around the junction finally started taking shape. It has been a frustrating period for all concerned, but we now look forward to speedy progress towards completing this section of Canal construction with our long-term partner Keyway. This will allow volunteers to move in to undertake the landscaping and other works which our teams are so good at, and it is a crucial part of the scheme for our own interests as well as for our partners in this development.
There will be plenty of opportunities here this autumn for our volunteers to ensure we create an attractive section of Canal prior to the houses going on the market. The first 14 of those are now built and are being fitted out. These are the “affordable housing”. Construction of the remaining six “open market” houses, including our own three-bedroom detached house, started in May.
Canal banks take shape at Dymock!
We are pleased that at last the Canal restoration is proceeding on site, if very much delayed. We greatly look forward to our long-term partner Keyway completing the work.
New Site commences at Dymock!
A very long drawn out process on the legal and planning side is finally moving towards fruition. All the pre-commencement conditions were at last discharged by the Council in March allowing the housing development to start in due course.
The Canal and other aspects have been going through a near constant value engineering process to ensure all aspects of the site can be developed cost effectively. This has required considerably more support than originally envisaged from our engineers Tony Gee & Partners and was made more challenging than normal as our engineer, Thomas Ashworth, has been working on a major road scheme at Pulpit Rock on the shore of Loch Lomond in Scotland and was also flown down to the Dawlish Rail rebuild to help on that! So our great thanks to the team, and particularly Director Austin Weltman, for the continuing support from the Stonehouse office.
Our thanks for their support and co-operation also go to the members of the Western Way Chapel who have kindly given consent for us to extend the Canal embankment across their boundary so that both our sites will be level rather than a huge gully being created between us. This agreement will considerably improve the look and ease of maintenance of the completed site and enables the Canal to go virtually up to the boundary gaining us another 10m or so in water.
Canal Trust volunteers made a start on site in April by saving the daffodils that would otherwise be buried under the new Canal embankment and replanting them in an area which will not be disturbed. We will then replant these on the finished Canal embankment in the future. While on site they also cleared the Chapel boundary and installed a land drain on that boundary in preparation.
We hope to be on site in June installing over an acre of geogrid on top of the existing surface to reinforce the ground prior to our long term partners EMG/Keyway commencing the construction of the embankment itself. As always the only way you will hear the latest news is to sign up to our free 'Count me in' email updates.
Wednesday 13 March 2013
Planning Application Approved.
We are extremely grateful to the Councillors at Forest of Dean Council for their clear support in granting Planning Permission for the Dymock scheme yesterday 12 votes to 2.
The scheme has been led by the Canal Trust's Legal & Project Development Team at The Wharf House and will provide a key stretch of Canal, village car park, play area, 14 affordable homes, 5 Open Market homes and a property to be acquired by the Canal Trust at the same rate as the affordable properties but as an Open Market rental to give a long term income. All the Open Market properties will also contribute £250 a year index linked in perpetuity towards the maintenance of the Canal and we will receive a small percentage of the end value of those units as well.
Revised Planning Application at Dymock
The H&G Canal Trust leads a partnership of Dymock Parish Council, Two Rivers Housing Association and the Landowner to restore the Canal in the centre of the village and deliver 15 social housing and 5 open market housing units – as well as a new village car park and play area. The H&G CT is committed to deliver the Canal on the site within 12 months of the transfer of the land once planning consent has hopefully been granted.
The original planning application, submitted by the H&G CT and registered in March 2012, was subsequently withdrawn to permit changes to be made to reflect further discussions with the planning authority and other interested parties. Revised proposals led to further detailed discussions which have resulted in the new plan reproduced here.
Provision is made for a 20 space car park to meet the severe shortfall in the village as well as a new play area to replace the one that is on the line of the Canal. A key part of the application is the development of affordable housing to keep Dymock a vibrant community and ensure the survival of the village school and other facilities. A vision was formed between the Parish and Canal Trust that all this could come about with the Canal as the axis upon which it all hinged.
All of the land comprising the green area around the Canal, and the Canal itself, will be transferred to the Canal Trust with the development making annual contributions towards the restoration, maintenance and management of the Canal, and in addition, the Canal Trust will secure a small percentage of the end value of the open market properties to assist with the delivery of the Canal elsewhere in the village.
This is yet another example of the H&G CT working in partnership to deliver not only its own vision of a vibrant Canal for the benefit of all to enjoy but also facilitating much wider benefits for the communities through which it passes.