Park and community centre big winners from £500,000 boost for St George

November 01 2019
Park and community centre big winners from £500,000 boost for St George

TWO major awards to community projects are among more than £500,000 of spending announced for St George.

The money - £529,00 in total – is coming from the Community Infrastructure Levy, money paid to the city council to help improve the area by developers who are building locally, and bid for by ward councillors.

The biggest award - £200,000 – is going to Meadow Vale Community Centre in Meadow Vale, Speedwell, to fund plans to extend the existing building by building a hall behind it. The new centre would be able to hold up to 100 people instead of the current 35.

Next largest is a £150,000 award to the Friends of St George Park to transform the park's lake, including the creation of a wildlife sanctuary and a wooden decking walkway - see plan, above.

Meadow Vale Community Association chair Fiona Russell said the association hoped to have the extended centre finished by the end of next year – but there was a lot of work to do before then, with a new planning application needed and expensive drilling work required to prove the ground under the extension does not have a mine shaft beneath it.

She said: "We are absolutely thrilled that finally, after years of campaigning, we are able to fulfil our dream to bring a community facility to Speedwell which will be big enough for us to provide something for every age group. Somewhere, at last, for our young people to meet, and for groups to enjoy many activities, and maybe a café, open daily to enable everyone to enjoy some company, and something lovely to eat.

"We have been trying to do this for over 36 years, so it is a realisation of a dream."

St George Central councillor Nicola Beech said: "It is an absolute privilege to represent Speedwell and support the community association with their transformational plans. For too long it has been felt that Speedwell has been ignored and all too often missed out on community funds. Now that has changed, and this new hub will be a fantastic resource for us all.”

The St George Park Lake scheme, developed with the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and reported on by the Voice last year, would see the east end of the lake and the island made into a wildlife sanctuary and a wooden decking walkway built across the middle of the lake, allowing people to view the wildlife in the sanctuary. A second, smaller island would be created between the walkway and the eastern end of the lake for nesting birds and a platform for pond dipping built at the eastern edge of the lake, near the play area.

The work is expected to also include repairs to the surrounding walls and leaks, which are complicated by a main sewer running underneath.

St George West councillor Asher Craig, who worked to win the funding, said: “St George Park is the heart of our community and green lungs of our neighbourhood, and has evolved greatly over its history. A market garden for the city in the 1860s, with the park created when the lake and bandstand were added in the 1890s, these latest exciting plans to restore the lake and boost biodiversity will make St George Park an even better place for future generations to enjoy.”

The other schemes to win levy funding are:

*Up to £55,000 to create a car park on Crews Hole Road in an area currently used as an informal car park and affected by fly-tipping. The application was backed by Friends of Troopers Hill and there will be consultations before the scheme goes ahead.

*£50,000 for traffic calming on Hillside Road to slow traffic using the street as a rat run, particularly around Air Balloon Primary School and the surgery. Consultations are set to be held with the scheme expected to be built before March 2021.

*£48,000 for energy saving and access improvements at St George Community Centre, including for people with reduced mobility or buggies and small children, new external lighting, LED lighting inside and an insulated ceiling, a new gate, fencing and a more accessible pathway from the park, and a new welcome arch to be designed by a local artist and residents.

*£26,000 to improve road safety warning signs and road markings in both directions at Conham Road, to raise awareness of cyclists and pedestrians using or crossing the road at a blind spot. The Voice reported last month on safety concerns raised by mum Annette des Forges, who often cycles with her 10-year-old son Nico on the affected part of Conham Road. Consultations will be held on the exact details of the scheme, which is expected to be finished by March 2021.