click THE WRITING on each photo to get to the article.
To see our VISION for how this playing field could be used for the community. It was drawn up in early 2019.- click here.
Good News (as at Feb 22nd 2024)
This seems to have been a St Leonards news topic for several years. There has been a clash between the SLNA charity and the Deaf Academy charity, we were (and are) keen to keep it for community use as per it's historical use and covenants and they would have liked to sell it at a ‘development’ value. Both those aims are in line with our respective charitable aims. A court of law had decided that it was a community asset and that it could continue to be a community asset. Covenants on the land, from the 19th century, prohibit large scale development and when the forerunner of the Deaf Academy, the Deaf & Dumb Institution bought the land in 1913 they knew that they were getting it cheap because it could not be built on.
After a period of inaction you can imagine my surprise to receive a letter from them detailing outline plans to celebrate their 200th anniversary by bringing MRL into use as ‘a social space’, and as an opportunity to ‘celebrate our shared history, the value of community and cultural diversity in creating a legacy for generations to come.’ I have attended some meetings with the Deaf Academy and they have shown me a plan which was very much a concept rather than a fixed idea. It looked to be a good and acceptable solution and we agreed to proceed cautiously, but with good intent on both sides.
Together we are being helped by Ben Hunt who has been a prime mover in the development of Parklife in Heavitree, where the community has come together to create a building which is generally regarded as being a great asset, not only in being a pleasant place to meet and eat, but as a means of fostering even more community activities.
What appears on Mount Radford Lawn and what the space gets used for will not be the same as in Heavitree, the use of the whole space and any buildings put on it will only be decided after much community consultation, that is the community of St Leonards as well as the community around the Deaf Academy.
Their two hundredth anniversary is in 2026, but we are hoping that part of the lengthy consultation process will be held on the Lawn this summer. Wouldn't it be lovely to have the gates unlocked and positive activity taking place there, I think we would all feel it would be a sign of greater things to come.
Too soon to crack open the fizz, but a little bit of excitement is permitted!
The proposal to make the site access of a new Residential Home and a new Care home onto Weirfield Road was passed with little thought to the practicality, safety, historic road closures, Dept of Health Regulations and residents' needs. The argument against this, made to ECC by the SLNA and very strongly by the residents of Weirfield Rd and others is why should developers be allowed to use the public highway as their driveway, they should create access directly onto the main Topsham Road.
Another point which seems to be being ignored is that The Department Of Health recommends that healthcare premises have two vehicular accesses for safety reasons. Should a fire occur or other incident requiring emergency vehicles to access the site and one vehicle access was disabled then there would be another.
After an appeal and many complaints a Planning Dept. decision has been made to allow a Residential home with access (shared with the Care Home ) off Weirfield Road, even though this could result in emergency vehicle, or any vehicle access being blocked more often than it would be if the access was directly onto Topsham Rd. No requirement has been placed on the developers to add a second access from Topsham Road. A great mistake and we hope it doesn't result in a medical emergency not being able to be served quickly enough. If people are hurt or lives are lost because of carelessly given planning permissions, then the authorities will be answerable.
Matford Lane DCC sale - land between The Coaver Club & Matford Lane
“Notice is hereby given that Devon County Council intends to dispose of an area of approximately 0.6 hectares of land known as land and buildings at the Matford Office Site, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, Devon EX2 4QD, part of which is considered to be open space land.”
This proclamation was published in the Express & Echo a few days before the 12th January which was the deadline for objections to be received….. in writing.
Once again the ‘ether’ over, (or under, I’m not sure) St Leonards was filled with vibrations of indignation. WhatsApps, emails and other digital jungle drums spread the news. Pens and paper were dusted off and written letters made their way through the big brass letterbox of County Hall.
Our argument, and that of many others, was that we understand that DCC finances are in a poor state. We understand that they have underused assets which are acting as liabilities, no taxpayer would want that, BUT, nibbling away at parts of the grounds of County Hall, described in the Conservation Area Appraisal, “County Hall which includes the Grade 2* County Hall building itself, Bellair, the original villa (Listed Grade 2*) and the locally listed Coaver Club building. These buildings are set within superb landscaped grounds, including mature Luccombe oaks and sweeping lawns, providing an exceptional setting for the historic buildings.” to balance the books would be a retrograde and un-retraceable step.
The community managed to persuade the DCC Cabinet, which met on the 9th Feb. to defer the decision to sell that piece of land. What happens next is uncertain, but we urge them not not just come up with another decision on it’s future without taking into account the feelings and suggestions of the community in which this land is situated.
Another asset of interest to those living in St Leonards is Larkbere House, between Topsham Road and the river. Agent's details of it are here.
A while ago some residents of Cedars Road, a small cul-de-sac in St Leonards, decided that they’d like to tidy up a little patch of weed and bramble-covered land at the end of the road (see picture). The land is shown in this photo and is 25 sq m, about the size of a small sitting room. They could have gone about it two ways, ask the owner for permission, or just got on with it as the owner clearly wasn’t too fussed about it’s appearance. They decided to ‘do the right thing’ and ask the owner if they could improve its look by planting some flowers and keeping it maintained. Big mistake! The owner was Devon County Council (DCC) and their wheels of bureaucracy rolled into action.
DCC’s response was that the residents group should:-
Enter into a legal licensing agreement with DCC.
Take out Public Liability insurance for a liability sum of £5M and indemnify the owner from all claims.
The land must be grassed over, seeded or turfed at no cost to DCC when the licence ends, this could be at any time.
Something tells me that no one at DCC has looked at this site, they’ve just taken a big book of rules off the shelf and applied them. Admittedly a passer-by might get hit by a falling daffodil or a developer might want to buy the land for housing development at short notice, but that’s in the realms of fiction. Devon County Council should display a more human, sensible face and be glad that a small grubby corner of their land was being improved by community action.
I feel hopeful that if a planting plan was drawn up, DCC invited to meet the residents at the site and a simple written undertaking of ownership and behaviour produced, that common sense could prevail and the Guerilla Gardening could begin. If the residents wanted any money for plants or seeds I’m sure that the SLNA would agree to help, encouraging community activities is what we do.
Every quarter Maisaa, Sweid, our Community Builder, publishes a newsletter of activities, events, photographs and other community goings-on in our area.
She has instigated a regular 'Coffee Connection' in the Mount Radford pub, see the latest Newsletter for details. Maisaa has taken over from Jayne Leaver and will be providing us with a quarterly Newsletter as usual, containing things to do and to get involved with.
To see her latest Newsletter click here.
Residents of St Leonards Road have watched with interest the positioning of two electric car chargers in St Leonards Road. Another pair of EV chargers (the same type) have been installed at the southern end of St leonards Road. There exist several types of electric vehicle chargers and connectors, but the chargers installed her and widely throughout Exeter only have two types of plug, so are restricted to more modern and more expensive types of car. Pity. If Councils want to promote the take up of Electric vehicles it would have been better to fit chargers capable of filling every type of EV. It's a bit like a garage selling only Diesel.
Half the EVs on the road at the moment can only charge from the type of socket which is missing here.
The Dissenters' graveyard.
It is closed to the public during winter months, but open on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer.
See the EDGT website for full details.
It's not a boring old graveyard! Read about the interesting people who are buried there on the information boards and take your smart phone to click the QR codes to read the life stories.
From the 23rd October 2023 to 15th January 2024
Exeter City Council exhibited their latest draft of the Exeter Plan online and at certain local venues so that the public could give their opinions on the Council's ideas for the future of Exeter. This can be quite important for St Leonards because, I have it on good authority that Mount Radford Lawn will be included as a 'Playing Field'. We think it is important that this designation is made permanent so that the Playing field can be kept and expanded as a community facility.
As usual St Leonards residents turned out and made their opinions known to the consultations and directly via the website. Thank you.
Mobirise is an easy website builder - just drop site elements to your page, add content and style it to look the way you like. Learn more...
All sites you make with Mobirise are mobile-friendly. You don't have to create a special mobile version of your site. Learn more...
AI Website Creator