on behalf of Totnes Trust
(embargoed until 8 April 2015)
NEW TRUST MAKES NEW GARDEN FOR TOTNES
Thanks to a new community organisation, there is to be a major makeover of Shady Garden, a small public space at the heart of Totnes town centre, which will soon become a great place to relax in the bustle of the busy shopping area.
The garden, at the junction of Fore Street with Station Road, had become uninviting and underused. So a few years ago a small community group was set up to try to make the space more attractive to passers by, offering relief from narrow and crowded pavements.
The group of volunteers was supported by the landowner (South Hams District Council) and Totnes Development Trust. The Town Council and Totnes Gardens joined the team as well, and local firm SCG Associates gave landscape design advice.
In 2013 the group carried out public consultation on ideas for the future of the garden, and was fortunate to have a generous funding gift from Rebecca Muddeman to carry out initial work. This involved opening up the space to make it more inviting and accessible.
An enthusiastic response to this work from the public encouraged the group to look for more funding to complete the whole project. A bigger second stage of work was drawn up to replace worn-out ground surfaces, install attractive seating, and add other useful features such as town information boards and display areas for art and sculpture.
In 2014 the project came under the wing of the new Totnes Trust, which has brought together Totnes Preservation Trust and Totnes Development Trust. It is a charity run by volunteers, which aims to improve the quality of the town’s buildings and public spaces. It decided immediately to support the Shady Garden development, and made money available to kick-start bids for funding.
Armed with this support, the Garden project group was able to make a bid to South Hams District Council’s Community Re-investment Projects Fund for the rest of the money. The bid has been successful, and there is further finance from The Wakefield Trust and Sovereign Housing Association. As a result of this it will now be possible to let a contract to complete the project this year.
The chair of the project group, Louis Victory, says “ We’ve had an amazing team of volunteers working hard on this for several years. It’s a brilliant example of what the community can achieve if councils and other bodies work creatively to support local people who are willing to give their time and expertise.
But this wouldn’t be happening without the new Totnes Trust pushing to make Shady Garden it’s first big achievement in the town – nor without a great partnership with the District Council as the main funder.”
Keith Rennells, the District Council’s Parks and Greenspaces Officer, has been involved throughout, and says: “ This is a great example of how direct action by the community can improve public spaces, given the commitment and persistence shown by a group such as this. Thanks to their tireless efforts Totnes is to have a wonderful garden at the heart of the town, which will be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.”
Further information can be obtained from Louis Victory, chair of the Shady Garden Project Group and a trustee of Totnes Trust: firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile 07887 993 022. An artist’s impression of the completed project is attached to the covering email.