Hull 4 Heroes and Hull City Council have today (Thursday 8 February) revealed plans to create a new £8m Veterans Village for ex-servicemen and women in Hull and the East Riding.
The ambitious and innovative self-sustaining project will include a new horticultural therapy and rehabilitation facility, market garden, garden centre, community facilities as well as new housing – believed to be the first of its kind in the world. If successful, up to five more centres like this could be developed in the UK and the model may be adopted by the US.
This pioneering centre will include a self-sustaining training facility that will focus on the principles and practices of horticulture in a work-based environment, educating and enabling the veterans to start or build on a career in areas of interest, increasing their employment opportunities. The produce grown will then be then sold in the garden centre and food outlet, these areas will also provide potential training opportunities for veterans in retail. The rehabilitation and support will also extend to assist veterans who may have difficulty in dealing with the pressures of integration into the community and society as a whole.
If approved, the two sites set to be developed are in Hull City Council’s ownership and straddle the city and East Riding boundary on vacant land on Priory Road and Coronation Road North. The Coronation Road site will provide purpose-built housing, offering approximately 58 residential properties many of which will be locally sourced single-storey modular accommodation along with single storey therapy centre and Hull 4 Heroes headquarters offering hands-on advice and support from staff to improve life and work skills. This area of the project will also incorporate walled garden, landscaped sensory gardens and growing areas, multi-use games area and a community play area, the scheme will also be looking to enhance the existing orchards and public open space for use by the local community. The Priory Road site will contain a visitors centre with coffee shop with a retail outlet selling produce from the site, the existing meadows on Priory Road are of particular ecological value and proposal is to also enhance and protect these areas.
Councillor Daren Hale, deputy leader of Hull City Council and cabinet member for Finance, Land and Property, said: “We are proud to support this ground-breaking project and it further illustrates our commitment to veterans in the city. We envisage this to be a true Veterans Village which will support many veterans to integrate back into the community enabling them to access advice, accommodation and employment opportunities to have a bright and successful future.
The council has been working with Hull 4 Heroes to find a site which meets their unique community needs. The preferred site identified by Hull 4 Heroes is the former education centre on Coronation Road North which is allocated as greenspace. The city planning manager, Alex Codd confirmed planning officers had been working with those representing Hull 4 Heroes to see if the development could be designed to fulfil the requirements of the Local Plan. Alex Codd confirmed a general residential use would not be appropriate on the site.
Local charity Hull 4 Heroes has so far helped over 50 ex-servicemen and women through various projects including support in providing one room and full property refurbishments and enhancements, whilst also ensuring the veterans and their families have the basic appliances and tools to start a life outside of the armed forces. Many veterans experience individual challenges including mental and physical illness such as PTSD, shot-blast injuries, unemployment and homelessness and the charity has recognised that the type of support the project can provide will be invaluable.
Paul Matson, founder of the Hull 4 Heroes charity, said: Myself and the team have been overwhelmed by the support received to date from officers and councillors from both Hull City Council and the East Riding. The charity already has a wide network of support from local businesses and more importantly from the lovely and generous people of Hull and the surrounding area. As a community we are all connected in some way to the armed forces, whether this be a son or daughter, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, parent, grandparent or neighbour. Hull 4 Heroes has a great team of local and dedicated volunteers along with a passionate project team of professionals who are excited about engaging with the local residents to create a legacy that Hull 4 Heroes, the local community and the people of Hull can be proud of.
Plans for the new development will be on public display at a drop-in session on Tuesday 20 February between 10am and 5pm, a public meeting will also take place from 6pm on Tuesday 27 February at The Abbey Hotel, 141 Coronation Road North. Residents and businesses will have the opportunity to provide their feedback and influence the plans, ahead of the submission of the planning application.