@Penhill Park Plan - updated March 2008
Penhill Renewal: The @ Penhill Park Project
A Proposal for the ‘built’ development of the
@ Penhill Park Project
Penhill Forum, through it’s play and youth sub group, has held a series of consultations over the past 5 years about the vision for Play and Youth activities in Penhill.
Prompted by the consultations for the Community Plan and Fair Shares fund, and need to provide something accessible to both Penhill and North Pinehurst (the old Whitworth Ward)
Alongside a grand plan for new play equipment and activities in the Penhill Park/Seven Fields Playing Field area, the Forum have been consulting on proposals to provide a new or recycled building for Play and Youth work and activities.
Penhill Forum – Community Plan
Play and Youth sub Group
One down! This community agreed for Sure Start to take over the under-used and never popular Community Centre at Everleigh Road.
This decision was based upon the amount of other venue’s we had at the time, including the future potential to use schools for community activities.
Northern Private Finance Initiative
It had been known that for some time that under Northern PFI that the Uplands School (in the old Seven Fields Infants School) would become vacant in the next few years.
There is great potential for the community take over this building for Play and youth and re-site the present Play and Youth team from the Cricklade Road building to the Uplands School site,(it is larger, safer and more accessible) and for the use to be extended for other community activities.
This would very much fit in with the @Penhill Park Grand plan, and it was with this in mind that Consultation with the community took place.
There have been ideas for housing development in this area, inappropriate adjacent to the Nature Reserve and intruding on the open space.
Holiday play sessions
Sure Start’s use of the Community Centre has affected the Borough Play Service ability to provide play sessions throughout holiday times for both Penhill and Pinehurst – these have gone ahead in the Cricklade Road building but this is not best for the community, being across a busy road. None of the other centres would pass an Ofsted for a variety of reasons.
St. Peters Church Hall
had been taken out of long term play decisions, because of ongoing structural problems. The hall is now reopened. There is a real will however, from the Church, that this hall is looked upon as a community resource.
Seven Fields School
Suffered structural problems and is being rebuilt.
The Cricklade Youth Building
Is not big enough for youth work now and internal discussions have been held about extending it and it has to be made disability accessible. Ther is no way it can be moved to the save side of the Cricklade Road.
The Penhill Park
The Penhill Park has been allowed to degenerate, but once they were aware of our plan, it was declared a ‘Town Park’ which should make it easier to get funding to regenerate it.
The Bowls Club and Green:
The Bowls Club suffers problems from vandalism of the area and the general ‘abandoned’ feel of the site.
The plan which has been developed includes the whole site from (including the Park) the Eastern end at Crossways Avenue to the boundary between the playing fields with the Nature Reserve and the Orchard and situated in between is the Seven Fields Primary School
The @ Seven Fields Project Plan.
The consultations held about this plan were numerous, the results and proof of them are available up on request from the Penhill Forum. These include written surveys, Have a Say Days, door knocking, stalls at events and Planning for Real events. Residents have been updated through the Penhill News.
The ‘modules’ of the plan are:
The TWIST Adventure Playground Project, to be managed by a local group, is very much part of the bigger plan for @ Seven Fields.
Penhill Orchard, being managed by a local group will also be part of the larger plan, offering another venue for activity and learning. Over 200 fruit trees and bushes have been planted, units for storage and activity have been purchased.
The Seven Fields Nature Reserve, could be seen as part and indeed enhances the ‘learning’ aspect of the project, the Reserve was the subject of a huge consultation prior to it’s designation as a Local Nature Reserve in 1995 (after vigorous campaigning by local people) and is very much shared by all surrounding communities. A Management plan for it has been devised and the LNR is to be extended to include Penhill Copse and Furrow Field very soon. A local group also has been involved in the management of the Reserve for nearly 20 years.
The Playing Fields
The playing fields like the Nature Reserve and Orchard have an established use. Playing Fields are essential to any area, well used by Football and cricket clubs all over Swindon.
We will, however, want to ask for a more relaxed approach to their use in down time (when they are not being hired out to football/cricket teams and Leagues) to encourage more locally managed sports.
Any other suggestions?
Based on all those consultation the first things should be:
Personal Safety and combat potential vandalism:
Most children expressed concerns about their own safety in the area.
Also to encourage local management and credibility to the project, the whole site would need more security by the installation of elevated CCTV, find the employment of on site staff – (old fashioned Reckys) Work to find local opinion and costings etc., have been done.
The Bowls Club, would, of course, remain and perhaps be enhanced by the regeneration of the area. More use of the area would provide better security and community involvement and more care for the site. The Club have been encouraging membeship from all age groups.
We would expect the Park to retain it’s horticultural appeal, this small park contains Swindon’s largest collection of Spring flowering bulbs, several herbaceous beds and mature but small trees.
The reduction in the height of the hedge for safety or ‘perception of safety’s’ sake. In effect it would stay the same but enhanced to promote it as a village green, perhaps flatten out the central dip, add retractable lights and use it for the occasional community event.
The old Paddling Pool site
This would see a new Water Play Park, with safety surface.
Almost all those who were asked in the consultation expressed the wish to see the paddling pool replaced.
The Old Adventure Playground would house the TWIST Adventure Play Ground project. To be managed by local people, TWIST have many plans and organise and fund raise for children’s activities, use this to train themselves up whilst they wait for their plans to materialise.
The old Tennis courts
A new multi purpose fenced play arena has been erected and well used. An ITV Peoples Millions Award purchased this equipment.
The area around the Tennis Courts would need to have enhanced car parking and this would bring in the recently rebuilt Changing Rooms, which were felt important to the sports fields.
Along the top of the Playing Fields
The hedgerow needs to be regulalry maintained to a sensible height to help with the safety aspect, but not moved completely, it forms a very necessary noise and aesthetic barrier to the planned additions. To include:-
A play ground for younger children, safety surface and fenced. Now achieved via it moving to the top of the Borough priooty list and our finding £20,000 extra Landfill Money.
The planned youth shelter has already been installed
A small amphitheatre designed as a meeting area, seating and skater friendly.
A small pedal bike track could be included to wind in and around this area.
This would mean that the whole of the area – including the Seven Fields School buildings could be utilised to be an area for young people which would be the envy of the region.
How to pay for it:
Nothing will happen without resident’s input, so if you like these ideas, jump on board to help make it happen.
Some of the activities could come from statutory funds, who, in the spirit of Renewal perhaps could be persuaded to ‘bend the spend’ to the benefit of both Pinehurst and Penhill and of course the are has always been popular for the other areas of Upper Stratton, Haydonview, Greenmeadow, Haydon Wick and families have already been along to use the new play area being in their opinion "a better selection of equipment " than the areas in their community.
The Fair Shares fund, should over the next few years, enable workers to work with the community to build up community activity and enable local people to draw down more lottery funding. Indeed, some funding schemes are available now, but the community capacity to draw it down and get action on it is low.
Since these plans were first thought about there is a new nation-wide push for Community Engagement
Most funders will not give money without local people active in the group.
What is important Now
An acknowledgement of the work which has gone into the preparation of the various community plans and the credibility of their research and findings.
Enough respect for the process to acknowledge that it can be achieved and that the local plan reflects the Penhill Community Plan for the area for at least ten years to give the community an opportunity to fulfil the vision. Strategic plans are LONG TERM!
Everyone needs to recognise what the proposals are, and put their own agenda’s aside if they do not compare with the community as consulted.
A willingness to work slower so that community visions can be achieved and capacity to deliver and maintain can be built into the plan.