Why TV presenter Nick Knowles is backing Hull's plans for world's first 'Veteran's Village'

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 7 Mar 2018

TV presenter Nick Knowles has leant his support for an £8m "Veteran's Village" between Hull and Cottingham, insisting the country owes a debt to those who put on a uniform.

The project - the first of its kind anywhere in the world - is being spearheaded by Hull City Counciland Forces' charity Hull 4 Heroes, with input from East Riding Council.

It would see 58 modular-build properties created, along with a horticultural therapy centre to help veterans adjust to civilian life.

Mr Knowles, 55, hatched the plan with Paul Matson, a former soldier and founder of Hull 4 Heroes, after the pair crossed paths during the filming of a special edition of DIY SOS.

How the village could look

He said: "From a small seed of an idea, we have concrete proposals that could genuinely change how this country, and indeed the world, looks after its veterans.

"There is great development going on in Hull right now, This development would only add to that. It's a really audacious, forward-thinking plan. Not only would it enable veterans to be looked after, it would also make use of their skill-sets.

"Young men and women put themselves at risk around the world, be it Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere, in order to protect us. While we're going to Pizza Hut or the cinema, these people are putting themselves in harm's way, at the behest of the government - the people we vote in.

"I believe we have a duty to look after these men and women."

A colossal sum needs to be raised, including, crucially, private investment, if the plans are come to fruition, but Mr Knowles is confident of success.

He said: "There seems to be very strong support for the project.

"Confronted with a mountain, it's very tempting to think, 'I can't get up there.' But the way to tackle an obstacle is simply by putting one step in front of another. Keep going and it will happen. It starts with a step.

"If we wait for the government to do something to help veterans, it won't happen. The idea is to create a self-funding business venture that will benefit the whole community."

Two sites, in Priory Road and Coronation Road, have been suggested for the development. Both are owned by the city council but straddle the border with East Riding.

The housing, therapy centre and new headquarters for Hull 4 Heroes would be based at Coronation Road South, with a visitors centre, including a coffee shop and retail outlet selling garden produce grown by the residents, would be built in Priory Road.

'FORWARD-THINKING': The village would benefit veterans and the wider community, claims TV's Nick Knowles (Image: Hodson Architects)

Mr Matson registered Hull 4 Heroes as a charity two years ago after helping Mr Knowles and others create the so-called 'Veteran's Street' in a rundown part of Manchester.

Mr Knowles said: "Paul and I talk regularly. He is an absolutely top lad. He has built a fantastic charity. Full credit to him."

Mr Matson said: "We just feel this needs to happen. It would bring Hull and the surrounding area together. We have a massive Armed Forces community in Hull and the East Riding. This project would make a massive difference."

Hull 4 Heroes has helped accommodate more than 50 veterans.

Plans went on public display last month. A planning application is expected to be submitted later this year.

Read more: Today's main headlines from Humberbusiness.com 

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