Chapter 2 - Our Neighbourhood

Our Past

Devonport grew from a small 17th century settlement surrounding the Royal Dockyard to a large self-governing County Borough of 84,000 people by the 19005. In 1914 Devonport was amalgamated with the town of Plymouth to make up the County Borough of Plymouth, the area subsequently being renamed the City of Plymouth in 1928. Devonport has both a rich architectural and social history. The Naval Base and Dockyard were responsible for creating and shaping the area historically and continue to do so today. During the Second World War severe bombing, subsequent redevelopment in response to an urgent need for housing, and further expansion of the Dockyard means little of the original 18th and 19th century town remains today.

By 1956 the Dockyard had expanded to employ over 20,000 people, many of whom lived locally. Since the end of the Cold War, in the mid 1980'5, the Dockyard workforce had shrunk in size to its present level of 4000 (of which only approximately 100 live locally). The majority of the workforce now commute from other parts of Plymouth and the wider South-West.

Although the Dockyard has shrunk in terms of its workforce, the area occupied by the Yard remains the same, much of it now lying redun-dant or used only for storage. A significant part of the NDC area remains closed off behind barbed-wire topped walls. Local residents believe the Dockyard wall is a major barrier to the redevelopment of their area and see the demolition of the wall, and the subsequent reclamation of land, as one of their main priorities. The 1960's saw large-scale redevelopment of Devonport with new Council property built on Ker Street, James Street, Mount Street, and Clowance Street and Pembroke Street.

In the early 1990s, Plymouth City Council demolished Clowance House and Prospect Row Flats, replacing them with Westcountry Housing Association properties. Refurbishment of Pottery Quay and Cornwall/Cannon Street was carried out, together with environmental works around Devonport Guildhall, James Street and the partial pedestrianisation of Marlborough Street.

In 1993 a three-year Estate Action Programme was carried out to refurbish 160 properties in Pembroke Street. This area has become a model of best practice for tenant management, not only in Plymouth, but nationally. This was accompanied by an extensive programme of community designed public artworks which was extended into the adjoining Greenlink project (which included a ceremonial arch, street mosaic, event space and play park).

In the mid 1990s, Welcome Hall was refurbished as a community facility and as the first home of Routeways, which by the end of the 1990s had moved into new premises at the Routeways Centre (the former Crown Hotel).

From 1993-1998, both the Ply-mouth Development Corporation and the Plymouth Task Force operated within the Devonport area. The Plymouth Development Corporation acquired the South part of Mount Wise and demolished the former married quarters and NAAFI buildings. The lower sites were developed by Housing Associations, while Mount Wise and the surrounding park were transformed into a new open space and an original open air pool completely rebuilt together with the provision of new facilities for boatmen and a new pier at Mutton Cove. This work was funded as part of a Heritage Lottery Urban Parks scheme.

Most recently, the Single Regeneration Budget programme had contributed to the refurbishment of Tamar, Tavy and Lynher tower blocks and flats and maisonettes in George and Clowance Streets. Finally the clearance of Cornwall/Cannon Street is underway, which will result in 100 new Devon and Cornwall Housing Association houses, together with private housing.

Our People

Our strengths are vested in our people. The area has over 7000 residents (3.8% of the population of Plymouth) a large proportion of which are very young, with nearly 30% under 16 compared to the national figure of 20%. Our young people provide tremendous vibrancy, energy and enthusiasm- strengths which will be needed over the coming years as we deliver this wide-ranging :NDC Plan.

A high proportion of our households comprise a single person (35.5% compared to 12% in Plymouth) and 1.8% of our population are from ethnic minorities : with Black African and Black Caribbean comprising the main ethnic groups -significantly higher than in the rest of Plymouth.

Our Area

Our area is distinct and diverse. Until the 1920s, Devonport was a separate town and it retains a distinct identity today. The area lies 1.5 miles west of Plymouth City Centre. Even today there remain examples of the area's former independence and grandeur, such as the Devonport Guildhall and Cumberland ~ Duke Street shop frontages. The area is currently dominated by large tracts of a high density, post-war council housing and by Ministry of Defence (MOD) land (South Yard). Some 120 small local businesses are dotted around Devonport with commercial uses concentrated along the eastern end of Richmond Walk and the business units in the north of the area. (See map on following page).

The Level of Impact and Lessons Learnt

Despite various efforts to regenerate Devonport, the area continues to experience tremendous problems. The large-scale housing redevelopments of the 1960's are becoming increasingly unpopular and difficult to manage.

More recent housing improvements have been more successful, but their impact has been dissipated by a piece-meal approach and the failure to develop a comprehensive programme of social and economic measures to compliment purely physical housing improvements. We believe that past regeneration initiatives have not worked because the community has been untouched by existing programmes -our lives have not changed substantially as a result of the improvement programmes carried out.

Despite the strength of our diversity and our close proximity to the city centre, our neighbourhood is economically and socially isolated. Cynicism and mistrust of public services is endemic. Agencies are seen to be unresponsive and, until very recently, there appears to have been little co-ordinated activity between them.

Anti-social behaviour and fear of crime affects residents and local businesses alike. Unemployment is high and benefit dependency widespread. Educational achievement and skill levels are generally low and, as our baseline statistics demonstrate, residents suffer particularly poor health.

As a result of this, our neighbourhood is perceived by many local residents and outsiders as an undesirable place to live and work. Housing conditions have deteriorated considerably in receil years, despi e 'he public inves men programmes detailed earlier. Our public housing has a very high turnover and the highest concentration of voids in Plymouth. Our businesses are uncertain whether to invest in the area or to leave and those that are operating in the area do not employ local people in any appreciable numbers.

Community Momentum and Desire

. The strength of this Delivery Plan lies in the intimate involvement of the Devonport community in its preparation. From the outset, our message was clear 'we want things to change'. Prior to NDC, our community had already demonstrated their ability to contribute and take the lead in a number of local initiatives and projects including Mount Wise Community Action Planning Event (CAPE), the Urban Village Study and the Greenlink Community Arts Project.

The initial momentum came from a group of local residents and workers drawn from across the area. They built on the lessons of the past and their involvement in Urban Village, the Mount Wise CAPE and SRB programmes. Very soon the concerns about a divided community, flagged up by Plymouth 2020 in selecting Devonport as the area to be put forward for NDC, dissolved. Issues about involving all sections of the community are fully acknowledged and there is little talk now of a division between Mount Wise and Granby or one side of the street against the other.

As the NDC process has developed community involvement has grown, increasing the unity and sense of purpose of local people. A wider cross section of the community has now joined the 'Devonport Five' in attending Steering Group meetings, including representatives from black and ethnic minorities and young people. In addition, our six focus groups contain a strong community presence with a number being chaired by local people.

As well as involvement in meetings, local people have become involved in the Practical side of preparing the delivery plan. For example, residents took part in the household survey at all stages from design to data inputting. Residents also organised a series of 'Fun Days' which brought the community together to gauge their opinions.

Local people have published regular NDC newsletters, delivered to every household in the area, which have proved vital in keeping the community both informed and involved. Those most engaged in the process have been tireless in their networking and in consulting with individual groups within the area. In addition, the opening of a shop in Marlborough Street, as a permanent base and source of information, has increasingly been the focus of activity and engagement in the process. The Time Line included at Appendix G illustrates the developmental stages we have gone through in preparing both the Phase 1 Bid and this Delivery Plan.

As part of our consultation we commissioned work to develop a Cultural Plan. This plan seeks to include the arts, sport, media, heritage and tourism in an integrated programme of activity which we believe will get people involved in the wider NDC process. Our Cultural Plan is being created as part of the delivery mechanism and we see it as a vital tool in raising self confidence levels, broadening experience and increasing involvement -key elements of achieving sustainable community regeneration.

Members of the Partnership

The process of guiding the NDC bid in Plymouth has been overseen by the Plymouth 2020 Partnership, (Plymouth's 'Local Strategic Partnership'). This partnership was the body responsible for the selection process from which Devonport emerged as the area within Plymouth to put together an NDC programme. The Plymouth 2020 Partnership has been kept fully informed and has supported the progress we have made .

The process has been driven, however, very much from the bottom up, by the local community themselves. The initial proposal to the Plymouth 2020 Partnership was formulated by "The Devonport Five", who were supported by a wide range of other residents and community groups from right across the Devonport area.

This group were quickly supported by the City Council in its role as 'Community Mentor' and other key agencies, notably GOSW, the Benefits Agency, the Employment Service, Working Links, the Police, the Health Action Zone and Plymouth Community Safety Partnership. Close links were also formed with what was initially a separate partnership involved in bringing forward 'Urban Village' proposals, in prticular South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) and the Princes Foundation.

Since the early stages a wide range of other partners have joined the process, including Routeways Centre, Millfields and Wolseley Community Economic Development Trust, Key ham Community Partnership, Devon & Cornwall Refugee Support Council, Faith Groups, local Schools, Action Zones, Health Authority, Primary Care Group, Groundwork Trust, Plymouth College of Further Education, local businesses and many, many others. The main point of contact has been through six focus groups which have been tasked with examining in detail issues and proposals and have concentrated on the following subject areas:-

1. Employment, Education, Training and Business Support
2. Health, Social Issues, Community and Leisure
3. Physical Environment, including Housing
4. Crime and Community Safety
5. Youth
6. Neighbourhood Management

A Steering Group was formed during the Phase 1 stage, and this comprised both residents and representatives from all of the groups and agencies mentioned above. The Steering Group has been kept deliberately open and flexible so that anyone in the community can join and make a real difference to the process .

This has been a great strength in developing the Delivery Plan and has ensured that issues of concern to local people have remained at the heart of the Delivery Plan. It was agreed early in the process that longer term we would move towards an independent company or Charitable Trust structure.

Currently a Shadow Board has been formed which is in the process of drawing up a formal constitution and putting in place structures which can oversee and deliver regeneration programmes in the Devonport area for the foreseeable future, and beyond the 10 years of NDC. An important part of this involves bringing together the previously separate NDC and Urban Village processes. The structure which emerges will also need to be capable of embracing other initiatives as and when they arise.

The Shadow Board currently comprises a majority of local residents (including the Devonport 5) drawn from across the NDC area, a faith group member and representatives drawn from the black and ethnic minority community. The Shadow Board includes three City Councillors, two local business people, representatives from the SW RDA, the Princes Foundation, Devon and Cornwall Police, the South & West Devon Health Authority and Government Office for the South West. The Shadow Board is supported by a dedicated staff team, currently employed through PCC but which will eventually be employed directly by a Regeneration Company or Trust.

Whilst the informality and openness of focus groups and the Steering Group have added to the strength of the Partnership, it has been realized that this can seem intimidating to sections of our community, eg vulnerable and excluded groups. The Steering Group has recently refocused its attention on the need to make special efforts to engage these groups both in the formal structures and in obtaining a wider cross-section of opinion. These points will be fundamental when moving to the more formal arrangements of a Devonport Regeneration Company or Charitable Trust.

Chapters ...
1. Forward, Summary; Vision
2. Devonport - Our neighbourhood
3. Devonport - The Present
4. Devonport - The Future
5. Devonport - The Plans
6. The Forward Strategy
7. How the Plan will be Delivered