Part of our vision for Heavitree Pleasure ground is to build and run a cafe and community hub in the park. After much consultation (see feasibility study 2014) we know the majority of the community are behind the idea and are excited by the prospect of the potential benefits this facility could bring.
The cafe will serve many potential purposes, including:
1) Providing an income along with the community hub to help sustain the Pleasure ground’s short and long term future. With huge funding cuts between 2014 and 2018 due, Heavitree Pleasure ground needs to become financially sustainable. This is one way that it can happen.
2) Providing jobs for local people. A cafe manager and paid staff will be needed as well as volunteers. We eventually foresee training and mentoring schemes running through the cafe too.
3) Providing a unique, central place for locals to meet up , eat and drink together in a warm , friendly and comfortable place.
The Community Hub
People are concerned that society is becoming more fragmented. We now network and form community in a myriad of ways but busy individualised lives have led to an increase in social isolation, loneliness and depression. This is supported be the The Mental Health Foundation report of 2010 that showed, amongst other things, 48% of people surveyed believed people in general were becoming more lonely.
Parks are a ‘3rd place’ away from home and work where people can come together – we see Heavitree Park as a kind of community glue where people from all walks of life, all ages, races and religions can get to know each and support one another. As an example we have met an elderly widow through our work in the park. She lives overlooking the park but since she has no family, is of limited mobility and very few support networks she is isolated. We have been able to invite her, fetch her and introduce her to others at some of our events already – if a permanent structure was in the park just think of the potential for other people just like her. In some ways we think we all need a cafe in the park.
This community hub will create employment and help make the park more economically sustainable. It can support people working from home by offering a work space or meeting venue. Basing the facility in the park will encourage people to participate in activities that can lead to healthy lifestyles. This could be through tennis coaching or new park sports like lawn bowls or FOLF (Frisbee Golf!). The building as a community hub could be used as voting station, playgroup or any number of community activities or groups.
We believe that this project meets themes 4,6,8 and 9 of the Council’s Parks and Open Space Strategy as well as meeting Purposes 3,4,6 and 7 of the Corporate Plan for Exeter.
A professionally feasibility study was completed in November 2014 which along with master plans for the entire park, a quantity survey and grounds testing also produced some different, more informed designs The point of the project is about the people it will serve. We want it to eventually be a heart of the community not a hindrance. Please get in contact with us if you want further information or updates about it. We really value your input, even if you have issues with it!