A new FWCP sub-group has been set up to work towards a Park Development Plan. The Improvement Group will draw together new and existing ideas and liaise with Council Staff to improve the Patch for local people (particularly young people and elderly residents) and ensure these are compatable with improving the space as a wildlife habitat as well as the needs of immediate neighbours, schools and other existing users. All FWCP members are welcome to get involved.
At the FWCP AGM in September 2006 members agreed that they would like to see FWCP work (with the City Council) to produce a development plan for the park. The new FWCP committee met on 2nd November and established a FWCP Patch Improvement Group (PIG) , replacing the Playground & Tarmac Groups, to work closely with the FWCP Wildlife Group & City Council staff (Environmental Improvement Team & Parks) as well as other stakeholders (3 schools & Old Viaduct Court) to realise a Development Plan. It was noted at the AGM that some initial work had already been done which indicates a number of issues and ideas. This issue-scoping work included:
- An issues board at Patch Easter Event in April 2005
- E-mail discussions in April 2005
- A meeting with residents of Old Viaduct Ct in Feb 2006
- An informal survey of Upper Wellington Rd residents re installing a gate to the Patch in June 2006
- FWCP Wild-life Group – Greening the Patch consultation
From these and other discussions & feedback, a number of ideas and issues have emerged which may help inform thinking around future improvements. These could be summarised as follows:
COMMON VIEWS & ISSUES
- The Park is well thought of by most residents and users and is valued as an open space and community meeting point for many in the area especially those with childen.
- Most local residents are supportive of the FWCP's community events.
- Park users and residents value the Patch as a ‘green’ space, wildlife habitat & peaceful space.
- It should NOT be overdeveloped with too many facilities, or unnecessarily lit.
- Access from Hartington Rd is poor for the eldery/people with mobility difficulties due to steep slope, no steps, lack of handrail.
- The park caters well for families with younger children (0-7), but Play facilities for older children (7-11) and young people (11+) are poor.
- Many residents – especially without children – do not know of the Patch, or feel its not for them.
- The tarmac area is in a poor state (often with broken glass) and offers very limited facility for play (although is used for football and for cycling).
- There are no toilets
- Residents neighbouring the Patch (particulary those adjacent to the playground & Old Viaduct Ct) experience problems of noise and anti-social behaviour especially in the evenings at night.
- Regular gate-locking during the Spring/summer/autumn is valued as an effective way of reducing the incidence of anti-social behaviour.
- Residents at Old Viaduct Court have experienced regular incursions by children/young people retrieving balls and some related problems.
- Elm Grove School has experienced similar incursions and vandalism.
SOME SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENTS
- Goal posts and/or basket-ball nets on tarmac area
- Picnic tables & benches to enable older people, young people & others to meet up.
- New gate for access from Upper Wellington Rd.
- High fence (or other barrier) between tarmac & Old Viaduct Court (OVC) to stop balls going over.
- Increase distance from OVC to tarmac area by taking up some tarmac and grassing over
- Handrail & improve gradient for elderly/people with mobility problems at Hartington entrance.
- Improve surface on path up slope to Picton St entrance to improve traction when wet.
- Make Hartington Rd gate higher and move back so flush with the road.
- Improve signposting from Hartington Rd.
- Add gate and access route from back of OVC (possibly on Franklin St side)
- Use trees to support more informal (e.g. tyre) swings for older children.
- More bins.
- Toilet facilities
- Barbecue-type area
- Local history info exhibition informing users of railway past.
PLUS Wildlife Group plans
- More shrubs, trees & areas of uncut grass to encourage diversity of wildlife
- At Elm Grove end, pond & compost area