Agenda item

Exeter Community Partnership - Heavitree Pilot Project

To consider the report of the Exeter Community Partnership.


Cllr Denham to speak on the item.


The Portfolio Holder City Transformation, Energy & Transport introduced the final report of a pilot of a community partnership project for Heavitree. This was a yearlong collaboration between the University of Exeter, Exeter City Council and Exeter City Futures to connect partners, create opportunities and drive impact, focusing on the themes central to Exeter City Future's goals of making Exeter congestion free and energy independent by 2025.  Support was given to the community in Heavitree to collect existing and new data to help understand the cause of the traffic challenges faced by them. Councillor Denham introduced Kerry Deacon, Education and Engagement from Exeter City Futures and also the City Council’s Programme Manager Communities. The project was managed by Lindsey Anderson, Impact and Partnership Development Manager, based at the University of Exeter.


The project included six weeks of local listening and engagement activities using sites on Fore Street, the Heavitree Friendly Library based in the Parish Church, and at Ladysmith and St Michael’s schools in Heavitree. Over 200 people completed a travel and energy survey, and many more had engaged with the project and talked about what they loved about Heavitree, as well as providing comments relating to traffic and congestion in their ward. The majority of comments focused on traffic and congestion and after a series of workshops, the partnership, working with members of the community, formulated the following two questions:


·    How can we motivate and incentivise parents and staff who currently drive to school to use alternative mixes of travel?


·    How can we enable and encourage the use of sustainable and attractive alternative mixes of transport to reduce the number of cars driving through Heavitree?


Two community-led working groups (a School Working Group and a Congestion Working Group) collected data to evidence the problems and create practical solutions. The School Working Group are also engaging with Sustrans and Devon County Council’s transport team, and are monitoring air quality at a number of hotspots and comparing air quality data in locations outside their school gates, Higher Cemetery, Heavitree Park and on Heavitree Road.


The Portfolio Holder City Transformation, Energy & Transport welcomed what had been a very positive experience which had kept the community engaged and energised. The pilot methodology offered a good example to roll out in other communities with the right approach early on, support and understanding of both anecdotal and qualitative data.  It was now important to talk to other communities in Exeter and engage Members and broaden the topics to the issues of interest. A Member commented on schools in his ward, where walking to schools was already phenomenally high, the result of air quality monitoring both by those schools and on Cowley Bridge Road in his ward.  He also commented on the need to resolve transport attenuation issues, and made reference to the budget for Exeter City Futures. Kerry Deacon responded and stated that she did not have the latest results of the schools’ survey but the School Working Group had a series of questions and would have that detail.  There had been a continuous engagement taken outside of the school environment to create a better understanding of air quality around the school.


The Portfolio Holder City Transformation, Energy & Transport stated that the transport monitoring referred to ongoing work with Greenpeace to acquire a more sophisticated level of air quality monitor. The working groups were also considering a number of solutions including implementing a school walking bus. The data had given ideas to the community and it was important to understand how data could give more power and also influence others.  She referred to the Congestion Working Group which had looked at the capacity of nearby Park and Ride sites and whilst it was appreciated that the community could not solve such issues alone, data could address a lack of information such as car park usage which could be useful to both Devon County Council and Stagecoach.


Members embraced the process, and considered that the pilot was the way forward and consider how best this could be developed. Kerry Deacon explained that, although the project had finished in December, Kerry and Lindsey Anderson would continue to work with the community until July. The Programme Manager Communities also spoke of the involvement of Exeter City Council and welcomed the pilot as an excellent example of community building, and through her work she would continue to help promote community planning work.


Members thanked Lindsey Anderson and Kerry Deacon for the report.


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