The sensitive and beautiful restoration of historic Drake’s Place Gardens and Reservoir, and development of related activities, has been undertaken with - rather than for – the University’s communities.
Giving them back this re-invigorated heritage gem complemented by an innovative programme of opportunities for leisure, learning and volunteering for all ages has created a real buzz, restoring civic pride in this special green space whose history stretches back to 1592.
In partnership this sadly forgotten, long-neglected yet historically significant space has been transformed from ‘no go’ area to ‘must go’ place, bringing it back into the hearts of local people. From young families enjoying picnics and bug hunts to retirees contributing to memory archives over coffee, Drake’s Place is enhancing well-being, enriching learning, attracting wildlife and increasing community cohesion.
This ensured its success as outright winner of the People of Plymouth Award and Best Public Space in the recent Abercrombie Awards.
1 Meaningful community consultation is key to enthusiastic engagement – we took our project outline out to local people, asking them to help shape the plan, rather than always expecting them to come to us. We were innovative in our consultation materials and methods, which were widely praised
2 We appointed a Community Engagement Officer with real passion for the project as well as subject knowledge and previous experience – passion is contagious! This enthusiasm, together with their understanding of the challenges our communities face, has proven invaluable
3 We learned the importance of developing a strong brief so that everyone involved – from the University Estates team and our contractors to the staff of the Reservoir Café and teachers in local schools – understood the importance of their role and how it would contribute to the project’s success.