Devon Communities Together (DCT), having undergone a rigorous and competitive application process, were accepted onto the Pilotlight business development coaching programme at the beginning of the year.

“Pilotlight is a unique, capacity building charity offering free tailored strategic planning support to charities and social enterprises that are tackling disadvantage in the UK. We match directors from charities and social enterprises with teams of senior business people and facilitate a year long engagement to plan for sustainability, development and growth.

www.pilotlight.org.uk

Over the next 12 months business leaders, known as Pilotlighters, will be getting to know our organisation, our strengths and our challenges, in order to provide highly specialist business development coaching and mentor support going forward.

It is a priviledge to have been selected for this mentor programme and CEO Elaine Cook and the DCT management team hosted a visit from our matched mentors on 26th April.

Having arrived in Exeter, Elaine and the team took the Pilotlighters around some projects DCT are currently engaged with in Devon. It was a day of three sites and three seasons, with a little snow, sun and showers.

Bovey Tracy Town Hall

Pilotlighters and the DCT team were taken on a tour of the town hall and walked through the town centre to see the public toilets, library and Tourist Information Centre; currently scattered around the town the council are taking the opportunity to move and integrate facilities.

In 2008 the Old Thatched Inn unfortunately burnt down and in 2011 the Town Council bought the site and are now implementing plans to relocate and build a new community hub. Along with the council offices this building will house the library, the information centre and public toilets with the potential for wider community use.

The leasehold to the town hall building has been sold to two local entrepreneurs who are renovating the building and turning it into a whisky distillery and café - an inspiring enterprise for locals and visitors to enjoy.

Devon Communities Together have been commissioned by Bovey Tracy Town Council to support the development of their business plan and community consultation. Senior Project Officer Martin Parkes is leading this project and has:

  • Reviewed the current situation for the Town Clerk
  • Advised about funding to support development work and supported an application to Awards for All
  • Undertaken work in partnership with the steering group to:
    • Develop a capital investment plan
    • Undertake community consultation
    • Develop a business plan

     Current town hall  

     

Bovey Tracy public toilets

   

Inside the exisiting town hall

 

Refurbishments in progress

Christow Housing Development (Community Land Trust)

Pilotlighters drove through the beautiful Teign Valley to Christow where they were met by representatives from Christow CLT, Teign Housing and Site Managers. They were shown around the development of a total of 18 passive homes (14 affordable rented homes and 4 discounted open market homes).

The development is almost complete and Adrian Seawood, vice chair of the Christow Community Land Trust, explained the background to this project:

  • In summary, negotiations took place between the Parish Council, DCT and Dartmoor National Park Authority to discuss the various sites and the number of homes that would be most suitable
  • In order to drive the project forward and to obtain Homes and Communities Agency Grant, the Community Land Trust was set up in 2011
  • DCT refreshed the housing needs survey in 2011 to ensure that the right number, size and tenure of homes were identified. This survey also explored the housing needs of older people in the parish
  • Planning permission for 18 units - 14 affordable and 4 discount market - was applied for in July 2013 and permission granted in March 2014
  • The development started on site January 2014 and is due to complete in August 2016
  • DCT were also involved in the allocations process, ensuring that all of the homes went to local people. Letters were sent to all those who had replied to the various surveys and those on Devon Home Choice to ensure that they were aware of the homes and were registered to bid for them.

     Adrian Seawood, vice chair of the Christow Community Land Trust explains

the background to the project to Pilotlighters and DCT staff

   

Teign Valley Community Hall

On the final leg of the tour the party stopped to see Teign Valley Community Hall and were joined by Trustee of DCT Mike Wharton who lives in Christow and is a member of the Hall Committee.

This facility is a great example of a hub that serves several parishes in the Teign Valley. 20 years ago this was a dilapidated wooden hut before DCT supported the committee to raise funds for the new build. A key financial contributor to this project was the lottery fund.

Today the hall is an established facility providing a large venue, portable staging and indoor sports facilities for the catchment area.
DCT have used the venue in the past to host our Rural Futures Conference, Team Building events and Devon Community Buildings meeting and is supporting the hall management committee on changing governance arrangements.

   

The DCT really enjoyed the visit and look forward to working with our Pilotlighters over the next 12 months. 

“One year after working with Pilotlight, charities achieve average income growth of 20% and increase the number of disadvantaged people they help by 41%.

www.pilotlight.org.uk