The North Devon community are being invited to attend a bat and moth walk which will take place at Fremington Local Nature Reserve. The event which has been scheduled for Wednesday, 23 August at 7:30 pm, invites individuals of all ages to explore the wonders of nature and encounter the fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.
Those wishing to come along are invited to meet at the Fremington Village Green, opposite The New Inn Fremington, before embarking on the experience, led by local nature experts.
With bat detectors in hand, attendees will experience the thrill of detecting bats’ ultrasonic calls and learn more about their behaviour and importance in the local ecosystem.
To make the most of this engaging adventure, participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather conditions and are kindly asked to bring along a torch for added convenience and safety during the walk.
Lead Member for Climate and Biodiversity, Cllr Ricky Knight, says: “Don’t miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in the captivating world of bats and moths at Fremington Local Nature Reserve. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, 23 August, at 7:30 pm, and join us for an evening of excitement.”
The event is open to everyone, from seasoned nature enthusiasts to curious newcomers. The event is free of charge, and there is no need to book in advance.
For any inquiries or additional information, individuals can contact North Devon Council’s Parks team on 01271 388326.
Welcome to the newest edition of our newsletter on North Devon housing news.
In this newsletter we’ll let you know about:
NDC and Lendology recognised by national award
Update from our Outreach team
Supporting homeowners to keep roofs in good repair
Homes for Ukraine update
Pickwell’s Refugee Week
Chivenor resettlement for Aghan citizens
Short-term lets sector government consultations
Energy efficiency upgrades available for low-income households without mains gas
Calling all landlords
Compliments for our housing team
Empty Homes project update
NDC and Lendology recognised by national award.
Together with social enterprise lender, Lendology CIC, we have been recognised by a prestigious national award. We work in partnership with Lendology to tackle empty homes and revitalise communities, and this has been highly commended in the “Best Partnership Award” category by the Empty Homes Network Awards 2023.
For over a decade, we and Lendology have worked together to address the pressing issue of empty homes in the region. Our collaborative efforts have resulted in significant improvements in living standards, increased accessibility, and enhanced energy efficiency for homeowners.
Lead Member for Housing at North Devon Council, Councillor Graham Bell says: “We are delighted to be highly commended in the Best Partnership Award category with Lendology CIC. We launched our empty homes project last year together with around 12 other projects as part of our Housing and Community Safety Programme, which aims to increase the available housing stock in North Devon to tackle our housing crisis.
“We are passionate about bringing empty homes back into use and our partnership work with Lendology CIC is a vital tool to support homeowners to fund repairs and improvements. Although our empty homes project is still in its infancy, our renewed policy has already allowed us to lend significant funds to renovate a number of long term empty properties. We have received some great feedback from our customers about our innovative partnership with Lendology CIC and that has encouraged us to continue to develop our relationship. We look forward to supporting more owners and helping them to bring their empty homes back into use.”
For more information about the loans available, visit www.lendology.org.uk or call Lendology on 01823 461099.
Update from our Outreach team.
Our Service Lead Housing, Vulnerable Persons and Community Safety, Natasha Rowland says: “We now have a mix of bespoke/exclusive use temporary accommodation for rough sleepers with 17 spaces available at any one time.
“Unfortunately, rough sleeper numbers in and around Barnstaple remain quite high with around 17 people rough sleeping at any one time.
“Despite our best efforts not every rough sleeper will want accommodation immediately. We do not turn our backs on these clients but offer welfare support ensuring all is well and that they are safe, fit and cared for.
“Those in accommodation have different levels of need and some require a lot of support which is why we operate 24 hours a day 365 days of the year.”
Supporting homeowners to keep roofs in good repair.
We are supporting eligible homeowners to assess the current condition of their roofs and seek advice on the maintenance, repair, or replacement work required to keep homes in good condition.
Through our work with Lendology, we subsidise a home improvement loan scheme for eligible homeowners to finance a wide range of home repairs, adaptations, energy efficiency improvements or renewable energy measures.
If you are considering a more significant renovation, such as a full replacement or re-thatch, or even installing solar panels, Lendology may be able to help. For more information about the loan scheme, visit www.lendology.org.uk or call Lendology on 01823 461099.
Together with the local district councils, Pickwell is appealing to residents to help them grow their list of sponsors in the area. If you think you might be able to assist, please firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07951914829 where there is a dedicated advisor on hand to offer support.
Pickwell’s Refugee Week.
The Pickwell Foundation, would love to invite you to their ‘Afternoon of Compassion’ event for Refugee Week 2023.
Date/Time: Sunday 25 June 2-5pm
Location: Landmark theatre, Ilfracombe
There’ll be live music from Small Town Jones, Jules Moberly and M’Larky (The Grampus Inn house band), craft activities, informative talks, food tasting and fun for the kids.
The launch of their new short film – “When the Asylum Seekers Came to Town”.
Filmed on location in Ilfracombe by Dan Atkins Film, it tells the story of both the Pickwell Foundation volunteers and also the sanctuary seekers they met, whilst residing in the asylum hotel in Ilfracombe. It is a highly emotive piece which they hope will show the impact of how love and compassion, in abundance, has on the mental and physical wellbeing of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
The film will be shown alongside an exhibition of Toby Adamson incredible photographs, Toby is a UK-based photographer and filmmaker who has travelled the world documenting people and telling visual stories. His incredibly powerful images have been woven with words by Mark Read of the Salvation Army, who joined The Foundation throughout this period of support.
The film and exhibition are a powerful reminder of the importance of compassion and hope in a world that so needs that right now. They are a must-see for anyone who wants to be inspired by the human spirit.
In June 2022, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) offered 12 units of family accommodation at RMB Chivenor. This was part of a national scheme, providing up to 550 houses across the country, to assist families who had an association with UK armed forces.
Officers reported to Full Council in July 2022 with a recommendation to lease six of these units under the then Security Force Assistance Scheme (now the ARAP).
The Home Secretary has recently announced that all bridging hotels accommodating Afghan citizens will be closed. Residents will be issued with three months’ notice to vacate. Those who are unable to secure alternative accommodation will be advised to approach a local authority as homeless.
At the council’s recent Strategy and Resources Committee, Members resolved to accommodate more people from Afghanistan under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme in North Devon, by maximising the use of all 12 of the houses at RMB Chivenor.
The local closure of two bridging hotels could impact on housing services in North Devon. Increasing the supply of temporary accommodation at RMB Chivenor reduces the risk of a lack of supply and/or increased costs associated with the council’s statutory homeless duties.
Short-term lets sector government consultations.
Consultation on a registration scheme
This Council, along with others, has been lobbying government about the condition of the local housing market including the impact from short-term holiday lets.
The number of properties operating as short-term holiday let businesses in North Devon has increased from 1796 in April 2022 to 1895 in April 2023 and so this issue is still very much alive in North Devon. These are just the lets that are identified through the business rates system and so there are likely to be many more operating through the council tax system which can not be identified.
There are concerns about inconsistencies within the regulatory framework for the guest accommodation sector: unlike with hotels and B&Bs, it is difficult to monitor compliance with key health and safety regulations by short-term lets given the lack of an authoritative data source. Concerns have also been raised in areas with a high concentration of short-term lets about the impact on the availability and affordability of local rental housing and increased house prices driven by additional demand from owners of short-term lets. There can also be negative effects on local areas of anti-social behaviour, and a broader ‘hollowing out’ of communities.
In recognition of the growing issues and stakeholder calls for further action, a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCSM) consultation has been launched looking at three high-level possible approaches to a registration scheme with detailed questions about the design.
The register of short-term lets would provide data, which would help to provide local authorities with information about which premises are being let out in their area. This would provide valuable information to help them manage the housing market impact of high numbers of short-term lets (where this is an issue), and apply and enforce the use class changes, should this measure be introduced.
Alongside the introduction of a registration scheme, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has also committed to consult on planning measures that would help local areas have greater ability to control any future increase in the number of short term lets in their area and support the retention of existing properties to buy or to rent.
This consultation seeks views on the introduction of a short-term let use class. In addition it seeks views on the introduction of new permitted development rights to provide flexibility where short term lets are not a local issue, and which allows for this flexibility to be removed where there is local concern. They are additionally seeking views on how homeowners might be provided with flexibility to let out their sole or main home for up to 30 nights in a calendar year.
The DLUHC consultation is separate but will run concurrently with the DCMS consultation.
We are supportive of both of these consultations. It is clear from our area that short-term holiday lets are beyond saturation point in particular North Devon villages. Schools have been at risk of closure and many people are unable to afford housing in those areas now. The increase in the number of short-term holiday lets has also impacted on the ability to find rental accommodation as many landlords have switched over to holiday letting, which has caused many problems for the community and local businesses whose staff are unable to find accommodation. Regulation in this area will therefore positively impact on those communities and businesses.
Energy efficiency upgrades available for low-income households without mains gas.
Lower-income householders across Devon whose homes are not on the gas grid are invited to apply for free energy efficiency improvements to their homes.
Eligible homeowners will be supported throughout the works and can help decide what improvements are made.
All those supported through the scheme will receive a whole house energy improvement plan which can be used to carry out further, self-funded measures in the future.
The Home Upgrade Grant scheme aims to deliver energy efficiency and low carbon heating improvements to low-income households living in poorly performing homes.
Devon County Council has secured £13.2 million funding to deliver this project over two years from April 2023 until March 2025.
Officers in our Temporary Accommodation and Housing Options teams are working hard to try and find solutions for those at risk of homelessness.
Just a reminder that we are looking for landlords who may have accommodation available for rental. If you’re a landlord or a prospective landlord, please come to us and we can work with you to find a tenant suitable for your property.
We will offer some support at the start of the tenancy for those that may require it and also in some cases financial assistance with rent in advance or deposits.
We are also calling out to landlords for suitable properties that we could use for temporary accommodation under the private rented sector lease scheme. If you’re a landlord with a two or three bedroom unit in the main town areas, please do contact us for further information (01271 388870 or online).
Recent compliments for our housing officers.
Our housing officers are extremely passionate about supporting those in housing need and work very hard to get the best results for their clients. It’s lovely when they receive positive comments, and we thought we’d share a few of them with you…
“I just wanted to say a very big thank you for all your help, support, advice and understanding through this very difficult part of my life, I really appreciate everything you have done for me over the last few months.”
“Thank you for your kind email. Your council has a human touch which not all councils have. THANK YOU!”
“[Officer] deserves a pay rise, so helpful patient and kind.”
“Thank you for arranging to have the ramp installed outside of my house, I am so pleased.”
Empty Homes Project update.
At the end of April 2023 we contacted around 450 owners of homes empty for less than two years to offer support to bring their properties back into use. Around 60 have responded with updates ranging from the property now being occupied, marketed to sell or used as a second home and I have passed those on to council tax to update their records.
I have been working collaboratively with revenues to identify those empty homes with large council tax arrears and we have agreed to consider four for a charging order in August 2023. These could lead to the enforced sale of the properties to recover the debt and bring them back into use.
We have also agreed to target those properties that have been council tax exempt because probate has not been granted on a deceased estate. There are around 300 awaiting probate and whilst most are in the process of being resolved, around 10 are longer term.
We will also begin to target those properties that may be suitable for an empty dwelling management order and will select a few to test the process and build experience.
North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Sustainable Development Fund
Grants for People, Nature, Heritage and Climate are available for projects to be carried out by the end of January 2024.
The grant scheme is open to community groups, schools, businesses and parishes with grants of up to £4,000 for projects within the coastal parishes of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in North Devon and Torridge.
The fund is supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DeFRA). Its purpose is to help deliver the policies and actions in the AONB Management Plan. Last year, 12 new projects were funded with grants averaging £1,800 matched with cash and in-kind time. Supported projects must have an environmental, community, economic or social benefit or connect people with the landscape, heritage and nature of the AONB.
The 14 eligible parishes this grant scheme covers are:
Geoergeham & Croyde
Mortehoe & Woolacombe
Northam & Westward Ho!
You can find a full list of successful projects from last year as well as information on how to apply at the North Devon AONB website. For an informal chat contact Laura Carolan on 01271 388268 or email email@example.com
Landscape Recovery Scheme – application deadline 21 September 2023
£15 million is available for the second round of the Government’s Landscape Recovery scheme which supports landscape and ecosystem recovery through long-term projects. Three Devon projects were successful in the first round of the scheme: East Dartmoor; Killerton Three Rivers; and the Axe Landscape Partnership.
Landscape Recovery forms part of the Environmental Land Management Scheme, together with the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship.
The scheme represents a new approach to supporting long-term, significant habitat restoration and land use change, with the aim of delivering a range of outcomes, focussing on net zero, biodiversity and water quality.
For Round Two, the funding is for projects that support net zero, protected sites, and wildlife-rich habitat.
Landscape Recovery is open to all private land managers and landowners, either individually or as part of a group. Your project must be on a broadly connected area of at least 500 hectares (ha) in England.
If successful, you will be awarded project development funding over two years. The aim is to progress to the implementation of the project over a 20-year period.
For full guidance and the criteria for applying, visit the GOV.UK website
Community Ownership Fund – Department for Levelling UP, Housing and Communities
The government is providing £150 million over 4 years to support community groups in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of being lost.
Voluntary and community groups can bid for funding to acquire important assets and run them for the benefit of the local community.
The Fund will run until March 2025 with regular bidding windows for applicants to submit a full application to the Fund.
An updated prospectus for the Fund was launched on 12 May 2023 and the current bidding window for round 3 closes at midday on 12 July 2023.
Information on how to create a strong application as well as links to the prospectus for the fund can be found on the GOV.UK website.
North Devon Council, in partnership with North Devon Voluntary Service, have announced that they will be supporting the Big Help Out; a national campaign that aims to encourage volunteering in communities across the country.
The campaign showcases how volunteering benefits both the communities and the people who take part and its long-term objective is to get more people involved in volunteering and to highlight the positive impact it has on society.
The initiative is being launched as part of the celebrations marking the Coronation of King Charles III, and the partnership is calling on individuals and groups to come forward to share details of their volunteering groups to get new members on board.
Chief Executive of North Devon Council, Ken Miles, says: “The Big Help Out campaign is an excellent opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to give back to their communities, and we are thrilled to be part of it. We believe that volunteering is an essential part of community building, and we are encouraging everyone to get involved and make a difference.
“To support the campaign, which officially launches on 8 May, we as a partnership are encouraging individuals to visit the Devon Connect website and list their volunteering opportunities. We will then be promoting these opportunities on our social media channels (@North Devon Council & @North Devon Voluntary Services – NDVS).
“We hope that by doing this, we will be able to connect volunteers with groups and organisations that need their help and support.”
Chief Officer of Northern Devon Voluntary Service, Marie Gould, says: “Our community is exceptionally well served by our Voluntary and Community Groups and we are very pleased, in collaboration with North Devon Council, to celebrate all of this much-needed work as well as gain further and much-needed additional support, in the form of volunteering roles. Thriving, strong and healthy communities are derived through the work of our Voluntary and Community groups and those that volunteer. The Big Help Out will help us to further raise awareness of just how important and rewarding volunteering can be for all involved.”
If you would like your volunteering opportunities added to the Devon Connect website, please click ‘add a listing’ on it’s homepage.
If you’re looking to start volunteering but don’t know where to start, please visit Devon Connects website to find opportunities in your local area.
Tiverton, Devon is a beautiful town located in the heart of the county. With its rolling hills, picturesque countryside and quaint villages, it’s the perfect place to take your furry friend for a walk. There are many dog-friendly walks in and around Tiverton that offer stunning views and plenty of opportunities for your dog to explore.
One popular dog walking spot in Tiverton is the Grand Western Canal. Also known as the Tiverton Canal, this country park and local nature reserve meanders through picture-perfect Mid Devon countryside. The canal is a perfect place for a leisurely walk with your furry friend. When walking along the canal, dogs must be kept under control and out of adjacent farmland. The canal offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and is a great place to spot local wildlife.
Another great place for dog walks in Tiverton is Knightshayes. This National Trust property offers a parkland circular dog walk that starts from the stables lawn and takes you along Home Farm lane, through parkland and past the Heathcoat Cricket club. It then winds back up parallel to the drive in the vast parkland in front of the house itself. The walk is moderate in difficulty and takes between 25-45 minutes to complete. Along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside and Knightshayes House. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/devon/knightshayes/visiting-knightshayes-with-your-dog
If you’re looking for more dog walking routes around Tiverton, you might want to check out Bickleigh Mill’s website. They have information about several dog walking routes around Tiverton, including the Bickleigh Castle Loop and stages 4 and 5 of the Exe Valley Way. The Bickleigh Castle Loop is just over 4 miles in length and takes around 2 hours to complete. The walk takes in country lanes, farmland and one long steep track. Stages 4 and 5 of the Exe Valley Way are also great options for dog walks. Stage 4 starts at Thorverton and makes its way to Bickleigh, while stage 5 starts at Tiverton and makes its way to Bickleigh. These walks offer stunning views of the Exe Valley and are a great way to explore the local countryside.
In addition to these walks, there are many other dog-friendly activities in and around Tiverton. For example, you could walk part of The Two Moors Way, visit one of the many local parks or nature reserves with your furry friend. There are also many dog-friendly pubs and cafes in Tiverton where you can stop for a bite to eat or a drink with your dog by your side.
In conclusion, Tiverton is a great place for dog walks with its beautiful countryside and many dog-friendly walking routes. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll along the canal or a more challenging hike through the countryside, there’s something for every dog (and owner) in Tiverton. So why not grab your leash and head out on an adventure with your furry friend today?