Allotments

Bridgefield Update August 2014

Our last update covered the details of the planning conditions relating to Bridgefield and the proposals contained within the section 106 agreement between the developers and Ashford Borough Council.

The Parish Council has an interest in the proposals for the Sports area as ultimately the ongoing management and maintenance of these facilities will fall to the Parish Council, funded by the Parish precept.

Originally the proposal was to site formal recreation in the form of football pitches on the site along with a community building. Initial investigations revealed that the site was made up of blue weald clay on an area which is prone to consistent flooding which is not conducive to outdoor recreational sport like football and cricket. Discussions with various clubs who would use these facilities supported this argument.

Additionally, if formal sport was played on this site a pavilion/club house would need to be sited and if it was to meet Governing Body standards and raised (due to flooding) this cost would also be prohibitive. These factors all contributed to the decision that formal sport was not suitable on this site.

Following on from this evidence a consultation exercise was undertaken by Ashford Borough Council which included key stakeholders like the Parish Council, an online survey, public meetings and a consultation with children at Furley Park and Kingsnorth primary schools. The outcome of this exercise led to the decision that the site should be used mainly as open space with a designated play space and that future phased development in and around the location would take place.

A review of existing facilities in the Parish was also undertaken and it was identified that we had adequate sports fields that had capacity for expansion and existing community buildings that with minor alterations could accommodate increased demand. By utilising existing facilities we could keep the ongoing management and maintenance costs down and ensure we had a spread of facilities across the parish to cater for a range of ages and needs.

Following this theme, the proposed multi use games area (MUGA) could be located next to Kingsnorth School and used and managed by them during the day and used by key holding groups at evenings and weekends.

A redesign of the car park next to the pavilion and an extension to the pavilion would increase capacity and security and create a focus in the parish for organised sport and recreation.

Proposals for the informal recreational activities for the sports site at present include:

  • A play area.
  • Community Orchard.
  • Community Garden.
  • Allotments
  • A base for scouts & brownies.
  • Trim Trail
  • Open space

All of these activities are designed to complement each other and give opportunities for residents to meet, exercise, relax and learn.

Now that the section 106 agreement is close to being signed we can start developing our ideas for the site. An initial meeting with key stakeholder groups is being arranged so we can work out what is possible then we can start our wider consultation with residents.

If you have any ideas you would like us to incorporate please send them to the Parish Council.

Allotments

The proposed provision of allotments on a small part of the site has caused concern with some residents who may have the impression that the whole site would be used for allotments. The idea is that a community garden located within a fenced allotment area at the far end of the site would provide the opportunity for residents to meet and learn new skills; understanding where your food comes from is becoming an important issue, particularly for children. Having a range of plot sizes and a support system of fellow growers will also enable people to meet, grow food and learn at a level and pace that they can cope with.

Parish Councils have a duty to provide allotments if there is an identified demand, we have a waiting list for allotments which is regularly reviewed which includes residents in Bridgefield.If you are interested in an allotment or in the community garden please inform the Parish Clerk, Len Bunn and your details will be added to the list.

All of these proposals are subject to them being feasible, we won’t know that until we do further investigations and consultation with key stakeholders who will be involved in the ongoing management of the site.

If you have any ideas you want us to consider please advise, the site is large and includes a range of habitats that could be incorporated into the overall design, this could include the management of surface water in specifically designed drainage areas.