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Ben Thornes

Poole Park Life

Wednesday 16th July 2014

Following a lot of behind-the-scenes work researching Poole Park’s history, it’s current condition and listening to what people like and value we are now able to propose a long-term project.

On the 3rd October a report will be presented at the next Council Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee; this is a public meeting, please see the Borough of Poole Committee pages for details and the agenda available from the end of September.

The project, if recommended by Councillors, will see a significant funding bid made to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and deliver 5 themes for park improvements based on what people have told us and what we know requires improving within Poole Park:

1. The Lake and park drainage is a project that results in the infrastructure being in better condition and allows for a range of learning activities and development of skills for volunteers around nature conservation, practical skills (including willow and hazel coppicing to produce material to support the islands and reed beds) and monitoring programmes. The result is improved facility and water quality reducing environmental impacts and improving the visitor experience.

2. Renovate and restore heritage landscapes: healing the scars is a project that is informed by public engagement to understand what heritage is important the them. It will look at making potentially significant changes to the landscape, that are necessary to ensure that we hand the park over to future generations in good condition, while conserving the heritage. This might include for example, replanting the Horse Chestnut avenue, considering a lighting strategy for the park and improving the area around Norton’s Gate. We would also ensure that our operations become more energy efficient.

3. Geese and wildfowl is a people and learning centred project that will benefit the whole community. It will undertake studies, involving volunteers and experts, on the geese population in the park. There are compelling arguments for controlling the breeding of some species of geese in the park but baseline data is required before decisions can be made.

4. Traffic movements is a project that will have opinions divided and will need to be carefully handled. Mixed views have already been recorded, traffic should be allowed through the park, lift the restrictions to allow ‘breakfast trade’ through the park in the morning, ban traffic from the park. The aim is to better manage traffic to improve the visitor experience, including those who arrive by car, and to protect the unique heritage of the park.

5. Play is a project to renovate the West Field play area and consider re-landscaping and upgrading the under 8’s play are next to the Cygnet café. ECPS have a wide range of experience in engaging communities in play development and will draw on these skills to deliver significant improvements to the play experience in Poole Park.

Project Outcomes

It is anticipated that as a result the park will be better managed, in better condition with better interpretation.

The project will have identified a wide range of people, including hard-to-reach groups. Those that engage in the projects will have developed a range of skills, identified, recorded and learned about heritage and volunteered their time. The park will be a better place to visit and the environmental impacts of operations will be reduced. The park will be more resilient to pressure which will mitigate against future liabilities.

For more information, visit the Poole Projects website.

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