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Community Led Design Project

Please read in greater detail the vision statement by clicking here.

We would love to hear from you if you would like to get more involved with the Vision steering group.




April 2017 Update

As you may be aware, the project to build a new community ‘hut’ in Belmont Park has gained momentum over the past year and as announced at the AGM, a new design proposal has been developed and costed which we hope will meet the need of the Newtown and wider city community for a versatile and affordable space that is ‘fit for purpose’ being both accessible for all and energy efficient.  Most excitingly, last month ECC agreed a grant that brings the total of funds pledged to the project from various sources up to £350,000 which is an amount that we believe should be sufficient for us to move ahead with construction.  The proposed design has been circulated in the newsletter and on display in the hut with an invitation for comment.  It is now proposed to submit a planning application which we hope will be granted by the end of May and then to appoint a building company to begin construction by September with a proposed completion date by April 2018.  See the drawings in the hut (and below). Comments can still be sent to us at

Download this as a PDF

Spring 2016 Update

It has been two years now since the city council and county council pledged nearly £150k of New Homes Bonus and Section 106 funding to seed fund the Vision project for a new community building in Belmont Park to replace the aging current building managed by Newtown Community Association on behalf of the community.  The proposed new building, which received planning permission, was ambitious and potentially very expensive and the decision was taken to employ a fund raising company to assist with raising the rest of the funds (over £500k). The project received an encouraging grant of £20k from a charitable fund last March to add to existing ECC grants bringing funds promised to a total of £167k.  However since then grant bids to Exeter Legacy Fund, Jewsons Community Action and Garfield Weston Fund have all been unsuccessful.  The Big Lottery Fund is proving too big a challenge despite assistance from a fund raising specialist at the University and so it has been decided by the committee to pursue a less expensive building option and tenders are being sought.  The intention is to maintain the scale of the building but reduce the ambition of the build quality.  A significant funding challenge remains but new possibility of grants related to student accommodation development exist.  Anyone who would like to be involved in this project is invited to contact NCA Chair Rory McNeile on 07941 200269.


April 2014 Update

Exeter City Council Confirms £100,000 grant from New Homes Bonus Fund.

With full designs and planning approval already in place, the big challenge now for the Vision project, an ambitious proposal to replace the ageing Belmont Hut with a sustainable community building at the heart of Belmont Park, is funding.  With a target of £530k to begin building, the confirmation of a £100k grant towards construction costs of the proposed new building is exciting news.  NCA Committee members attended the City Council NHB Fund allocation panel last month and presented the case for the new building.  Allocation of a grant of £100k in two tranches to be paid subject to the remainder of the money being raised is an encouraging start to the fund raising programme.  It is also without doubt a vote of confidence in the ‘Vision’ project.  The committee would particularly like to thank City Councillors Richard Branston and Roger Spackman for supporting the funding submission.  City MP Ben Bradshaw has also written in support of the project ‘….The development of a sustainable, fit-for-purpose building for the people of Newtown is incredibly important…

The challenge remains to raise the additional minimum sum of £430k in the next year and local fund raising company Granted have been employed to assist with this process.  A particular need is to demonstrate the importance of a community building in Belmont Park and to this end the committee are keen to hear from any individuals, user groups or organisations who see an opportunity for them in the proposed new building.  Please contact Rory McNeile NCA Chair  by e-mail    or by phone on 07941 200 269.

January 2013 Progress Report

Progress towards our goal of a new building has been somewhat slower in the last 6 weeks or so due to the festive season and the need to take stock of outstanding issues, wait for our appointed consultants to arrive back off holiday and find the time to coordinate the next stage!

NCA has now appointed the full, professional consultants team who will see the building to the tender stage of the design process. This means that a complete design will be prepared and in a form that builders will be able to bid for the contract.

Building Regulations Approval should be with NCA in February. The questions raised by the City have been coped with. NCA is being assisted by Ruddlesden Geotechnical Ltd to provide soil condition analysis for free. As the Park is an old clay pit the City is rightfully cautious of the underlying ground conditions.

NCA's appointed quantity surveyor will hopefully report in the early part of February. He has been delayed assessing the cost of the building by the ground condition questions which filter through to the type of foundations and the structure of the building.

The configuration of the kitchen has been fed back to the architect for the overall design and has been translated into a set of 3D images which are on display in the Hut.

An application to the Exeter Board Community Grant Fund will be made this month. Cllr. Richard Branston and I are not very confident of success from this source but it needs to be tested! We agreed that our probable best chance was a grant for the disabled assistance elements of the project. Other funding enquiries, to the 2 local waste disposal operators, have proved very disappointing. They tell us their sites are both outside NCA's geographical limit for applications. Other possibilities are being investigated.

However, Ian Harrison has met Jill Loader of East Devon Council for Voluntary Service a second time. Jill will mentor draft bids. Her help and additional assistance from Jacky Cox will be invaluable. Preparation of major funding bids will start very shortly.

November 2012

We have now appointed the full, professional consultants team who will see the building to the tender stage of the design process. This means that a complete design will be prepared in a form that allows builders to bid for the contract.

Professional work required to get the proposals to the Building Regulations stage has continued through the month and Building Regulations have been applied for. We now have a number of questions back from the City to cope with. The fee (£1,000) was waived by the City via the kind offices of Councillors Richard Branston and P. Edwards.

Our appointed quantity surveyor (Q.S.) has been instructed to assess the accurate cost of the design to date. He attended a project meeting on the 16th Nov. and is now able to report in the early part of December.

The inspection of the local timber at a mill on Haldon Hill for the main structure of the building has proved a real success. The technical proficiency of the available timber has been assessed and does not seem to pose a problem. Our structural engineer has worked with the timber yard's proprietor for many years and is quite confident that all is well. This means that there will be a large element of natural timber showing in the new building in the structure, outside cladding, doors, frames and other items.

The NCA committee has looked very closely at the configuration of the kitchen to ensure it allows us and those who hire the kitchen to operate it easily and conveniently. This information was fed back to the architect for the overall design, to be translated into a 3D image and for costing.

Cllr Richard Branston suggested we apply to a recently established ECC / DCC fund, the “ Exeter Board Community Grant Fund”. He and our chairman, Ian Harrison, are not very confident of success from but it needs to be tested! We agreed that our probable best line of attack is to look to focus on a particular “City wide item(s)” in the new building only. Our conclusion was to go for £20,000 (probably get £10,000) for the DDA elements of the project.

An application will be submitted to Coastal Waste in December once the Q.S. has reported. No specific sum can be quoted yet but it is unlikely to be under £10,000.

Preparation of major funding bids will start very shortly. Ian Harrison has met Jill Loader of East Devon Council for Voluntary Service who has offered a mentoring capacity to draft bids. This help will be invaluable.  Jacky Cox will be undertaking some local community research on behalf of the committee – this will provide additional evidence to support the need for the new building.


October 2012

The return from summer holidays has seen a flurry of activity.

Councillor Richard Westlake's very generous assistance of £20,000 towards the building fund has now been confirmed by Devon County Council. This is a really important sum as it will allow any shortfall in existing funds involving the professional work required to the Building Regulations stage to be covered and to act as “match funding” when NCA looks to other funders for assistance.

A meeting has been held with Coastal Waste in respect of a grant. An application will be submitted to the company in November. No specific sum can be quoted yet but it is unlikely to be under £10,000.

The NCA is about to appoint the professional consultants team who will see the building to the tender stage of the design process. This means that a complete design will be prepared and in a form that builders will be able to bid for the contract. The professional consultants will be NCA's existing architect (Living Space), a structural / mechanical / electrical engineer, a geotechnical specialist (for foundations and contamination), a quantity surveyor ( to assess the potential cost of the building) and a health and safety specialist.

Also exciting is the trickle of businesses that are now assisting us to move forward. Lloyds Bank, the NCA's bankers, are to discuss with Ian Harrison some coordination assistance using their established business client network to source firms who may be willing to support the project in kind. This connection may prove very useful both materially and to present to funders.

Firms that are now giving/offering assistance are:


Ian has, with Living Space, been to inspect local timber at a mill on Haldon Hill for the main structure of the building. Its suitability now needs to be assessed. A great – and very local - source if it proves usable! This should be confirmed by the early November.

Your committee will be looking very closely at the configuration of the kitchen over the next month or so to ensure it allows NCA and those who hire the kitchen to operate it in the easiest and most convenient way. This information will then be fed into the larger design and costs.

Finally, preparation of major funding bids will start very shortly. NCA has a number of offers of assistance from Exeter Community Initiatives, East Devon Council for Voluntary Service and The Fruit Tree for Business. This help will be invaluable.

September 2012

The project now benefits from a planning permission!  This means NCA can move onto the critical part where the design goes from being a concept to the thing we will actually all use in the years to come.

Your committee is working with NCA's appointed architects, Living Space, to bring together all the expertise the project will need to see the plans come to fruition and be able to be used by a builder. Interest is already being shown by local companies in this respect so we hope there will be keen competition to be the successful tenderer.
One of the specialists NCA will use is called a quantity surveyor. This professional will look at the design and then assess the cost. This exercise is very important to allow us to start fund raising. Without an accurate cost assessment the committee cannot apply for grants.

The planning permission allowed NCA to bid for a grant, administered by the City, called the New Homes Bonus Fund (NHBF).  The City recently confirmed a two stage grant of £20,000 and £50,000.  The former sum is ear-marked for all the costs to get the proposal to building tender stage - i.e. all the detailed design, building regulations and any conditions attached to the planning consent.  The latter sum will only be released when we get to the point when we can demonstrate that we have all the balance of funding we need.  The NHBF funding committee also said that if we can match fund the total £70k then they will look favourably to grant NCA a further £100,000 in the yr. 2013 / 4. Other funding is already in place thanks to the support of the City via a planning contribution from a local development.

The cost of this next stage of the project is roughly £20,000.

Richard Westlake has very kindly recommended to the County Council that £20,000 of his annual grant budget is directed to the Vision Project!  This is a great boost and, hopefully, we can conserve the bulk of this grant for the build (rather than pre build costs) as it will go against the match funding we are asked to achieve to attain the 2013/4 £100,000 referred to above.

Other good news! Your treasurer, Derek Burnside has researched the issue of VAT payable by Charities on such projects as this and as far as we both can see NCA, as a charity, and the building, as a community building, are exempt from VAT.  This is a real saving!!

Also, we have our first and very important offer of assistance from a local company. Fresh, a family run painting and decorating company in Newtown. It has offered to give NCA its labour free when the time to decorate the new building comes. This is a really generous offer and one that NCA hopes it will be able to accept soon!

We are about to embark on the next, very important stage of this project.  I am very keen to ensure you are all fully aware of what is happening. The committee, particularly the treasurer, Derek Burnside, and I are open to questions or indeed face to face meetings if this would assist an understanding of the project or its progression to completion.


Planning Permission has been granted! Hurrah!

May Update

Technical problems issuing from the original planning consultations have delayed a decision on the planning application.  However, a new position (see picture) and some external design modifications are now agreed and this allows the application to be presented to the Planning Committee in late June.  A positive decision will hopefully prevail - all letters / e-mails of support to NCA's secretary or to City councillors messrs. Branston and Spackman will be really helpful. 

It is hoped that the second half of the year will allow enough time to seek the balance of funding required for the construction of the building in 2013.


Association Targets New Community Fund.

Newtown Community Association are setting their sights on a new fund, administered by the City Council, called the New Homes Bonus reported Ian Harrison, chair of NCA.

The Association is actively planning a new building to replace the existing WWII Hut in Belmont Park with a new, versatile “eco” building. The project is called “The Vision” and on 23rd April 2012 the community group submitted an application for the new fund.

Mr Harrison went on to say the new fund, which promises to be a substantial boost to large and small projects throughout the City, is directly linked to the housing development in the City. A proportion of the total fund will be specifically ring fenced to address existing deficiencies in local facilities. He added “The Association is excited to be involved in the first wave of applications for funding.  This is an important fund and should assist many communities in the future.  If the Association is successful it will allow the Belmont Park Vision Project move forward to the detailed design stage.  It will also, if match funding can be obtained, allow construction to proceed in 2013 subject to planning consent"

Cllr Branston, ward Cllr. for Newtown Ward, commented “ I am delighted the Association have made sufficient progress to be able to apply for a grant form this fund.  The fund's establishment is a very welcome addition to community groups across the City.  The application process is simple and I hope many organisations will be able to make full use of it."

The New Homes Bonus is a powerful, simple and transparent incentive originating from central government for housing growth.  It is based on the council tax of additional homes built and those brought back into use, with a premium amount for affordable homes and paid for the following six years. It ensures that those local authorities which promote and welcome growth can share in the economic benefits, and build the communities in which people want to live and work."

Belmont Park's new Community Building takes shape

New Hut Small

Here is an image of the new building in situ.

Update 13th March

Responses to the planning application need to be with the City Council Planning Dept by the 21st March.

A report by the area planning officer will be submitted on the 29th         

The planning committee meeting will be on the 16th of April.  Members of the public can attend and a designated representative of the proposal can speak for 3 minutes.

The application will go to committee because a number of objections have received.

Sustainability Statement

A Sustainability Statement has been approved and submitted to the planners. It contains lots of detailed information about the new building and the thinking that has gone into the project so far. The statement is available here.

Planning Application Submitted

The planning application was registered on 16 February 2012 and given reference number 12/0246/03. This reference needs to be quoted on any correspondence with the council.

The council will advertise the application in the Express and Echo on 23 February 2012 and the end of the consultation period will therefore be 15 March 2012. The information we provided with the application will be made available on the Council's web site.

If the application is reported to the Planning Committee, individuals with a direct interest, applicants or their agents are allowed to speak at the Committee meeting. Details are available at the Civic Centre or on the council’s web site

Update 15th February

Progress Report, January 2012

Good progress has been made since the community workshop in October 2011.

Here is a short summary:

As you will see there is a lot going on. If you wish to see the present plans they are up on the board in the Hut or you can contact me directly to discuss any aspect of the Project.

The planning process will give all residents a formal opportunity to make their views known to the Planning Authority. This process will be overseen by the City Council with notices posted locally and an advert in the local paper.

The planning application will be submitted on the 17th February and is expected to take between 8 and 12 weeks to be determined.

Sunday, 23rd October was a landmark day for the NCA's plans to see their “Vision” - a new community building – begin to take shape.

As Ian, our chairman, put it, it is really important to produce a design that is practical and robust for the benefit of the community for many years to come.

To this end, under the wing of a popular NCA Sunday cafe, Kirsty Stuart of architects, Living Space, presided over a very vigorous and interactive workshop involving some 100 local people.

Kirsty explained that the object of the day was to allow the community to consider some early possible designs and to comment on aspects they liked and didn't like. This would allow her to get an idea of the “feel” (as opposed to specifics) of the building we want.

Visitors were asked for ideas on floor layouts and the pros and cons of each were discussed. Following this people were asked to make rough 3D models of their ideas to explore and explain their concepts. Most included many environmentally friendly ideas as well as conveying a feeling of openness.

Prizes were presented! A Real Food Store hamper went to Melanie Harrison for best concept design and various others were awarded bottles of Harvest's newly pressed apple juice.

The current stage is to assess all the suggestions and to produce a final, draft floor plan and external views. This work will then be tabled to City planners and Ward Councillors in December.

Exeter City Cllr. Roger Spackman of Newtown Ward, who sits on the City's Planning Committee noted “unlike most consultations where developers are only really willing to make minor tweaks, this was a true public consultation to include the community into the design.”