Sunday, 19 February 2017

"Doing it Ourselves" >>> Forum for a New Local Economy >>> meeting Torbay 4th March

The Devon New Economy group is all about promoting practical projects for the local economy:
Futures Forum: Devon New Economy: at the forefront of new thinking

It met up for the first time last spring:
Futures Forum: Devon New Economy Gathering >>> Saturday 16th April 

And it's meeting up again this spring:


Posted by  on Apr 16, 2016 in Events | One Comment

On April 16th 2016, Transition Exeter joined with others – notably Transition REconomy, Exeter Pound and the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network – to explore what we can do locally to promote an economy which is socially just and offers an environmentally safer future.
Stewart Wallis, newly retired Director of the New Economics Foundation, gave his time for free. The result was a day full of buzzing conversations, energy and making connections both between people and conceptually.
We learnt that it’s not enough to have a clear vision; this has to be shared and there has to be a focussed strategy among those seeking change. Many aspects of such a strategy have to be local. We shared and listened to ideas and learnt of local projects, including local currencies, social enterprises, how to support small local businesses through a Local Entrepreneur Forum – a Green, supportive, Dragons Den – we could have one of those in Exeter some time.
We learnt about national policies for equality such as sharing common wealth through a Land Value Tax and democratic money creation by government rather than banks. Both of these reduce debt and counteract the redistribution from poor to rich through interest and rent. We learnt about social enterprises and how different a ‘provisioning economy’, meeting needs, would be from the ‘economic growth’ based one we have now.
Transition Exeter » DEVON NEW ECOMONY
Transition Exeter » ECONOMICS

And this year it's meeting up in Torbay:

Devon Convergence:
Forum for a New Local Economy

March 4th, 9:45 am - 4:00 pm, South West Energy Centre, Torbay

The 3rd Devon Convergence - "Doing it Ourselves" - will be held in Torbay. 
We're building a regional movement of people who want a sustainable, fair, and resilient economy, 
a truly bioregional economy.

Join us. The more we get together, the happier we'll be - and the more powerful we'll be. 
 We're a collective of organisers from Totnes, Torbay, Exeter, Plymouth, Dartmoor, and North Devon.

Click here to register - dio_torbay.eventbrite.co.uk
Want to get involved? Send an email to Jay at 

Doing it Ourselves: Forum for a New Local Economy - Transition Town Totnes

Brexit: and too many low paid, insecure jobs in retail and services

Sidmouth, like many seaside towns, depends on the hospitality and care industries - both of which are notoriously badly paid:
Futures Forum: Jobs and services: caring for the elderly
Futures Forum: Jobs and services: the hospitality industry

Fears over low-pay and lack of opportunities have been very much part of the Brexit debate:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and "reducing annual GDP per head while giving only a ‘modest boost’ to wages of low paid"
Futures Forum: Brexit: and providing good quality jobs
Futures Forum: Brexit: and apprenticeships

The New Economic Foundation has been pushing for innovative solutions for Britain's coastal communities:
Futures Forum: The Blue New Deal from the New Economics Foundation @ Climate Week in Sidmouth: the presentation
Futures Forum: The Blue New Deal from the New Economics Foundation > launching an action plan for coastal communities

As the NEF makes clear, as we begin the process of leaving the EU, focusing on what we need the economy to achieve has never been more crucial:



The latest GDP figures are out. These figures are a measure of economic activity, but say nothing about what that activity is. GDP counts growth in the illegal drugs and sex market just the same as the growth in farming or manufacturing, for instance.
As usual, news reporters and analysts will be scrambling to ask what this means for the UK economy. But the real question is what is means for the lives of people across the UK. And the answer? Very little.
The economy this figure describes does not reflect the reality of life for most people. The UK’s economy is so strongly rigged in favour of the few, that, despite economic growth since 2007, most people haven’t seen an increase in incomes. . Meanwhile, the wealth and income of the top 1% and top 0.1% has soared.
The UK is also one of the most regionally unequal countries in Europe, with a vast proportion of GDP remaining in the capital.
Gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant in purchasing power standard (PPS) in relation to the EU28 average, by NUTS2 regions, 2014. Source: Eurostat
For people waking up this morning in Bradford, Plymouth or Sunderland, these figures might as well be describing another country altogether.
Last year millions voted against business as usual, ignoring the stat-based economic arguments of the Remain campaign. It’s clear we need a new way of talking about and understanding our economy.
Key to that is how we measure success, properly holding the government to account on the things that really matter: health, inequality, wellbeing and taking care of our environment.
As we begin the process of leaving the EU, focusing on what we need the economy to achieve has never been more crucial. While the government’s industrial strategy is right to focus on creating jobs, we have to ask what kind of jobs?
The UK’s labour market resembles an hourglass. We have lots of very highly paid jobs in technology and finance, and far too many low paid, insecure jobs in retail and services, with a hollowing out of jobs in the middle. While we avoided the worst effects of unemployment during the recession, research suggests that this was at the expense of the quality of jobs.
The first pillar of Theresa May’s proposal for an industrial strategy is investment in science, research and innovation. It’s an important step, but we cannot fix Britain’s economy with more very highly paid, highly skilled jobs alone.
The regions currently suffering most are those where traditional industries have declined and nothing has replaced them. As we have found in our pioneering work with coastal communities, there is huge untapped potential and energy in these areas. People want to take control of what economic development looks like in their areas.
Having a job is about much more than just having money. What we desperately need are jobs that not only decently paid, but also reflect peoples’ aspirations and skills, offering security, a sense of purpose and opportunities for progression.
As plans for the industrial strategy unfold we must look beyond projections of how much they will boost GDP, looking instead at the extent to which they will create decent jobs, tackle regional inequalities, and give communities genuine collective control over their own futures.
Only then can our economy truly start improving peoples’ lives.

Forget GDP – these are the numbers that matter | New Economics Foundation

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Knowle relocation project: and "sheer hypocrisy" >>> District Council planning officers reject the Green Close development over affordable housing and overage

The developer at Knowle made a huge fuss about not providing adequate 'overage' (giving the District Council a cut of any 'excess profit') 
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: deciding to sell >>> 'overage' and the dangers of selling Knowle short >>> one year on... and yet further reports
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: full Pegasus contract published >>> PRESS RELEASE

It also got its way over the status of the proposed development - as C2 rather than the C3 pushed for by planning officers - which would have given Sidmouth affordable housing:
Futures Forum: Knowle Relocation Project: How to classify the proposed development: as C3 housing or as C2 care home?
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project > Pegasus planning application 16/0872/MFUL >>> Strategy 4 - Balanced Communities >>> Strategy 34 - Affordable Housing Provision Targets

Planning officers were persuaded to drop the demand for affordables and the District Council refused to divulge details about overage - until the planning application was rejected:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: planning application REFUSED by District Council >>> further reports

We can compare this application to another at Green Close in Sidford:
16/0867/MFUL | Demolition of former residential care home and construction of 36 sheltered apartments including communal facilities, access, car parking and landscaping. | Green Close Drakes Avenue Sidford Sidmouth EX10 9JU

The application got a nice write-up in the press:
Green Close retirement apartment scheme a ‘golden opportunity’ to improve Sidford road safety - News - Sidmouth Herald

Interestingly, this development was rejected by District Council planning officers - on the grounds of there not being enough overage and no contribution to affordable housing.

A commentator has called this "Sheer hypocrisy".

It is understood that the developer will be going to appeal - and has cited lack of 'viability', which is standard catch-all, as covered many a time on this blog:
Futures Forum: When is a development 'viable' or not?
Futures Forum: "Viability assessments conclusively prove that we cannot rely on developers to build affordable housing."
Futures Forum: "Some developers use viability reports to wriggle out of building more 'affordable' housing."

This is from the planning officers' report:

Equally, whilst the submitted viability report has undergone considerable scrutiny and there is agreement with its main conclusions, in line with policy as set out in the relevant local plan strategy it is considered necessary that, in addition to securing the contribution that has been offered, the requisite legal agreement should also include an overage clause in respect of any future excess profits.

The applicants are not proposing to provide any affordable housing citing viability grounds, which is very disappointing. The Council's Development Enabling and Monitoring Officer will be reviewing the viability evidence submitted and will make her recommendation.

An overage clause will be sought in respect of future profits and affordable housing provision, where levels of affordable housing fall below policy targets.

Should it be found that the development could support affordable housing strategy 34 of the new Local Plan should apply, namely 50% (18 units) affordable housing should be provided on site.


APPROVE subject to the completion of a S106 agreement to secure the payment of a financial contribution of £41,208 towards affordable housing, with the inclusion of overage clauses, and the following planning conditions:

Development Management Cttee decision re 16/0867/MFUL - 1 November 2016

Revolt against business rates: UK entrepreneurs pay more than France and Germany combined

Local authorities are not happy about the incoming changes to business rates - mainly because of the uncertainty it will bring:
Futures Forum: County Council calls for "an urgent national review of local government funding" as "thousands of small businesses are set to be hammered by a rise in business rates"

A knock-on effect will be that NHS hospitals facing higher business rates will have to cut back on services - which local authorities will have to make up for:
Futures Forum: "Local authorities are going to become increasingly dependent on business rates and yet by so doing they will potentially drive up the costs of healthcare in their localities."

Meanwhile, actual businesses are going to be severely hit by hikes in business rates.

From today's Telegraph, 'Queen of Shops' Mary Portas comments:

Business rates are killing our shops. We should scrap them to save our high streets


In 2011 I was commissioned by the government to look at how we could save our high streets. Six years on and we were really making progress. So it’s strange to watch our leaders preparing to impose a new business rates revaluation that will cripple high-street shops. The tax bill which will hit retailers from April will be the single biggest blow to independent shops since the financial crisis. I would estimate that at least a third of them will die off.

Ministers say that most businesses will see their rates fall, and that’s true in areas where house prices haven’t increased. But that is no use to small businesses where they have. They will be destroyed by the new rates, some of which are truly astonishing.

Business rates are killing our shops. We should scrap them to save our high streets - Telegraph

Over the last six years, there has been a lot of effort made to 'save the High Street':
Futures Forum: Can anyone save the High Street?

And locally there has been a lot of concern voiced:
Futures Forum: Clone Town Sidmouth?
Futures Forum: "We don’t want a main shopping area of charity shops and coffee chains."

There is particular concern over competition from internet retailers: 
Futures Forum: Sidmouth high street and online shopping

And the FT reports on how the new business rates that will apply from April will skew competition further in favour of online retailers at the cost of high street shops
Rise in business rates favours online retailers over high street - Financial Times

Yesterday's Mirror had other retail pundits gunning for changes to the business rate changes:
Alan Sugar, Theo Paphitis and Mary Portas warn high street could be killed off as Theresa May faces revolt - Mirror Online

Things are getting personal:
Mary Portas brands minister a 'muppet' in rates row | Daily Mail Online

And last week's Observer reported from Devon. So much for the UK becoming a post-Brexit low-tax haven:

The high street was already under threat – and now this

Lucy Siegle 
Sunday 5 February 2017

Everyone seems to have a solution for fixing the high street, but nobody’s buying. Fifteen independent shops a day are lost and this genuinely pains me. Ever since I got my first Fisher-Price cash register, I’ve had a thing about bricks-and-mortar shops. The first true pangs of jealousy I ever felt were seeing a photo of my older cousin helping out in my great aunt’s hardware shop in Plymouth. Why wasn’t I being afforded that opportunity?

As soon as I could, I began working in retail. It’s a bug that has never entirely left me. When, a couple of years ago, my husband and I opened a gallery-craft shop in a pretty harbour town in Devon, it was like the fulfilment of a dream. For those who don’t understand the appeal: when you have your own shop you get to do a bit of everything – branding, stock control, marketing and, in our case, representing the local producers and craftspeople who made our stock.

You also learn much about human nature and patience. When one in three visitors announces: “Well, this is something a bit different”, you could happily throw a lamp base at them. But, instead, you just radiate goodwill. It feels a complete and constructive vocation. For a time, you even fool yourself that you can earn a living.

But the truth is the high street can’t really provide a sustainable livelihood for independent retailers who are disproportionately fined for being independent at every turn. And that’s about to get much worse. This is not even a managed decline of the British high street, more a blindfolded march into the abyss.

April’s new business rates will be the final nail in the coffin for many small shops. A re-evaluation means that overall high-street retailers will need to find an estimated extra £125m to pay increased rates (according to business rent and rates specialist CVS). This lumbers the average small shop with an extra £3,663 added to its rates bill and, as I can attest, there aren’t many that are going to be able to pick up their pricing guns with a devil-may-care shrug and get back to work.

Business rates, declared “idiotic” by novelist Jeanette Winterson (who is faced with closing her beautiful Spitalfields deli, Verde & Company), and “an unfit for purpose tax” by Mary Portas, have long been cause for consternation.

The system manages to be at once fiendishly complex and strangely binary. Instead of local authorities setting the rate (based on nuanced local market conditions, say), they are fixed values based on rentable space and surrounding commercial properties, doled out by central government. If you happen to be trading in a property hot spot (and, indeed, your brilliant business may have contributed to the success of that place, as in Southwold and Port Isaac, areas with notably good independent shops that will be hit by rate hikes), or big brands have arrived and now surround your enterprise, then your valuation goes up and you find yourself catapulted out of the small business relief zone. There are deductions for chains, exemptions for charity shops, but few workable graces offered to independent retailers in single shops.

But the revaluation works for the online retail giants. According to CVS analysis, the nine Amazon distribution centres in England and Wales will be able to knock £148,000 off their property tax liabilities this year (despite annual sales in excess of £6bn). Similarly, fashion retailer Boohoo gets 13% knocked off the bill for its distribution centre in Burnley; so it goes on.

If we were looking for a spectacular example of cognitive dissonance from a government that proclaims its commitment to supporting small businesses, I suggest this would be it. You might argue that that’s life. As we’ve all spent so long worrying about the demise of the high street, it might even be liberating to let it go. Also, some consumers, I sense, would like to shift wholesale to online shopping, where they can ruthlessly hunt down the cheapest without having to make eye contact with hungry-looking shopkeepers.

Or you might conclude the high street is an anachronistic ragbag of eccentric shops without currency in today’s slick, algorithmic-driven marketplace. (And I do find that everyone loves to criticise a shop.) I also concede that some shops aren’t very slick. (Although over the years I’ve developed a grudging respect for the Dr Fish Spa Experience in Norwood Road in south London, which appears to offer salad preparation units, musical instruments and in-store piranha pedicures.)

However, against all the odds, we do have some really brilliant shops in the UK, a testament to innovation, creativity and a lot of dedication. Because they hide their disadvantage so well, they make us forget that already UK entrepreneurs pay more in business rates than France and Germany combined.

Shame we don’t listen to them, because I’m sure these gifted shopkeepers have many other things they could do instead. Independent retailers have already been promised the moon on a stick. But when I look back at some of the initiatives, such as the Future High Street Forum, what I see is a panel including the CEOs of Costa Retail and the British Property Federation (neither known for championing the little guy). The major recommendations from the Portas Review – free parking and cheaper business rates – were shelved in the proverbial “file 13” by government. Instead, the retail establishment has channelled its energy, along with pension funds, into enticing mega-brands such as Pets at Home to take up spots in major retail parks.

So the true value of the high street remains undervalued, fiscally and culturally. Independent shops aren’t just things that appear in a community, they form the architecture for it (yes, even the annoying snotty interiors/gift shop that sells Alessi can openers). Independent retailers tick obvious boxes such as being local employers, but also, in the best cases, join the dots to local producers. You know, the type of stuff that’s actually priceless.

I will probably always be vulnerable to a bricks-and-mortar shop. But if you see me heading towards empty premises on a high street – at least before business rates are reformed – please divert me to the town square and encourage me to pile my money up there and set fire to it instead. It will save pain in the long run.

Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan event >>> gathering comprehensive evidence that will feed into the community-led plan

Last month's series of workshops at Kennaway House
Futures Forum: Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan event >>> getting people of different views and persuasions around the table

... saw a huge amount of input. This will all feed into the final stages of public consultation - culminating in a second questionnaire at the end of next month:

Final drive to gather community opinion to help shape future of Sid Valley

15:31 17 February 2017

Representatives from a cross section of the community took part in a Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan workshop at Kennaway House to help shape the future of the parish

Neighbourhood Plan steering group has commissioned a housing needs survey for the parish

Representatives from a cross section of the community took part in a Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan workshop at Kennaway House to help shape the future of the parish
Volunteers leading a project to shape the future of the Sid Valley are renewing efforts to gather views of ‘hard to reach groups’.
In an update to Sidmouth Town Council last week, the chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan steering group also revealed the news that a housing needs survey has been commissioned for the parish.
This is part of a final drive to gather comprehensive evidence that will feed into the community-led plan which – once adopted – will become a statutory blueprint to influence development for the next 20 years.
Chairman Deirdre Hounsom told councillors that £16,734 of the forecasted £46,000 budget has been spent to date – this cost is underwritten by the town council and supplemented with grants, including money from the Government and the district council.
The group’s vice chairman, Councillor Louise Cole, outlined plans to go out to special interest and ‘hard to reach groups’ that did not respond to the first residents’ questionnaire in order to gather a wide cross-section of views.
Cllr Jeff Turner raised some concerns about how individual opinions expressed outside of the official channels will be taken into account and urged councillors to be actively involved in the process.
Cllr Cole reassured him it is an ‘extremely robust’ and open process with a number of checks and balances to ensure the final plan is genuinely representative of the community.
Mrs Hounsom added: “We have commissioned a housing needs survey to be completed by February 28. Then we will be able to assess what might be missing and if any supporting questions need to go on the second residents’ survey. We hope to send this out to all residents by the end of March.”
For more information on the Neighbourhood Plan, visit: www.sidmouth.gov.uk/

Final drive to gather community opinion to help shape future of Sid Valley - News - Sidmouth Herald

Brexit: and the opportunities and challenges of managing shared fish stocks

Every month, the Devon Maritime Forum newsletter looks at Brexit from several angles - for example, from December:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and A Blueprint for Sustainable Seas

This month's looked at the impact of Brexit on the environment:

Including a report by Caroline Lucas MP:

The Devon Maritime Forum is naturally interesting in fishing - and this month it looked at the latest to emerge from Parliament:

Brexit: fisheries inquiry

Inquiry status:concludedContact us
Report published on 17 December 2016. Awaiting Government Response. Report debated on 16 January 2017.

Report published

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has published its report highlighting some of the opportunities and challenges related to managing shared fish stocks following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
In withdrawing from the European Union the United Kingdom will withdraw from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which has hitherto been the source of fisheries management policy in the UK and the EU. But fish know nothing of political borders and the majority of commercial fish stocks are shared between the UK and the EU or other European coastal states to some degree. Species of these fish may spend different stages of their life cycles in different nations’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), and their spawning grounds may be in a different region from that in which they are caught when mature. These stocks are vulnerable to exploitation
All Brexit: fisheries publications

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Friday, 17 February 2017

"Local authorities are going to become increasingly dependent on business rates and yet by so doing they will potentially drive up the costs of healthcare in their localities."

The changes in how local authorities are able to finance themselves has sent alarm bells ringing pretty much everywhere:
Futures Forum: County Council calls for "an urgent national review of local government funding" as "thousands of small businesses are set to be hammered by a rise in business rates"

There have been plenty of warnings:
Business rate changes: the impact on councils cannot be overestimated - Public Sector Executive
Business rate changes in budget leaves councils facing further cuts | UK news | The Guardian

With this comment from well before the last Budget:

Councils are only set to benefit from additional new business rates revenue, since the existent ones will be offset by a reduction in main grant funding from Whitehall. This will make councils more dependent on a less predictable form of income.

Devolving business rates to councils will deepen local debt – credit agency - Public Sector Executive

But it's not just local authorities which have a very uncertain future.

As well as High Street businesses facing hikes in business rates
Business rates hike will put up prices in shops, experts warn - Telegraph
Government to pocket extra £1bn from small business rates hike while giving US giant Amazon a tax cut - the Sun

... NHS hospitals are to face increased costs:
NHS hospitals, GP surgeries and health centres 'facing huge hike in business rates' | City & Business | Finance | Express.co.uk
Government urged to stop property tax hikes for 1,249 NHS hospitals | Society | The Guardian

This comment to this last story is from the East Devon Watch blog:

“People are saying local authorities shouldn’t have to develop local funding solutions to the meeting the rising costs of adult social care. This article reveals another challenging irony in the context of the devolution of financial responsibility. Local authorities are going to become increasingly dependent on business rates and yet by so doing they will potentially, as an unintended consequence, drive up the costs of healthcare in their localities.

In a world where we have been able to do so many technically brilliant things we must be capable of finding a better way forward than the chaos, which is beginning to embed itself at the heart of the way we pay for our services. There is a strong argument to suggest this policy, when allied to ongoing cuts to central Government funding for local authorities involves taking money out of the NHS to fill the gap left by Government cuts.

Gardens as nature reserves: “Our message to all garden owners is to see your outdoor space as a small-scale nature reserve – part of a network of gardens that link to make a great big, valuable habitat."

We need to look after our gardens:
Futures Forum: The decline of the British front garden: "There's an environmental cost. Paving increases the risk of flash flooding - instead of grass and soil soaking up moisture, it runs straight off paving and overwhelms drainage systems."

Our gardens are, after all, a haven for wildlife:
Futures Forum: Big Garden Birdwatch: this weekend >>> Saturday 28th - Monday 30th January

The BBC's annual survey of gardens reminds us of these things:

Hedgehogs vanish from British gardens 

Fewer than half of British gardeners saw a hedgehog last year 

Sarah Knapton, science editor 6 FEBRUARY 2017

More than half of Britain’s gardeners did not spot a hedgehog, owl, frog, fox, mouse or bat, in their gardens in 2016, as wildlife experts warn that the once common animals are continuing to decline.

The annual survey by BBC Gardening World Magazine found there has been a further drop in hedgehog sightings as well as a decline in most garden birds, and butterflies.

51 per cent of people said they did not see a single hedgehog in their garden throughout the year, compared to 48 per cent in 2015, even though the warmer weather at the beginning of winter meant that the animals hibernated much later and so should have been visible for longer.

29 per cent of people said they did not see any of the birds on the RSPB’s Red List, which records those which are in most need of protection, including starlings and sparrows. Only 49 per cent saw a starling, down 5 per cent from 2015.

However 60 per cent of the 2,600 people surveyed said they had done something to help the plight of hedgehogs last year such as stopping using slug pellets, or keeping an eye out for the animals before using strimmers or lighting bonfires.

“Gardeners are increasingly acting to help wildlife, but the question is can we do it fast enough to halt this sharp decline in numbers?” said Lucy Hall, BBC Gardeners’ World Editor. “Our message to all garden owners is to see your outdoor space as a small-scale nature reserve – part of a network of gardens that link to make a great big, valuable habitat. Seen like this, every small step you can make to help wildlife really does make a big difference when we all act together.”

The hedgehog figures are particularly worrying because more of the animals should have been present this year. Usually July to September is the peak of hedgehog activity in gardens when young hoglets can also be seen, but activity declines steeply with the arrival of winter.

However hedgehogs were spotted later in the year than usual by the British Trust for Ornithology, (BTO) whose members also look out for the creatures during their annual bird counts.

Claire Boothby, Garden BirdWatch at the BTO, said, “We know that gardens are a useful resource for hedgehogs, which are a nationally declining species. The long-term weekly data collected through BTO Garden BirdWatch allows us to monitor the fortunes of hedgehogs and other wildlife in gardens and assess changes. It will also tell us whether they emerge early or late this coming spring.”

Other creatures which fared badly in 2016 included ladybirds, with sightings down by five per cent in the last year, compared with 84 per cent spotting one in 2016; and only 40 per cent of respondents spotted a peacock butterfly last year, down 4 per cent on the previous year, with small tortoiseshell butterflies faring even worse, with sightings down 6 per cent to 29 per cent.

Hedgehogs vanish from British gardens
gardenersworld.com - practical gardening advice from the experts at Gardeners' World

Rare Devon apples established in 'mother orchard'

The apple is very much associated with Devon and the West Country:
Futures Forum: Apple pressing, apple fairs, apple celebrations in Devon ... @ Radio 4's Food Programme
Futures Forum: The Apple Orchard @ Radio 4

A new project has been put together by the RHS in the County:

Rare apple varieties planted in orchard for safekeeping

9 Feb 2017

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is planting 45 cultivars of rare Devon apples to establish a "mother orchard" at its Rosemoor garden in North Devon.

The rare varieties include pig's nose, sugar bush and grand sultan.

Jon Webster, curator of RHS Garden Rosemoor, said: "These apples were gathered from small collections, from local farms and even private gardens, which the local fruit group knew. The idea of planting them in one place is to safeguard them for the future - a mother orchard."

"Since the 1950s our collection has been at RHS Garden Wisley, which now has 700 apple cultivars, together with 120 pear cultivars, over 100 varieties of dessert plums and gages, plus quinces, medlars and nuts. It's exciting to have a new heritage orchard in the West Country, the spiritual home of British apple growing."