Community First - Some new Gloucester projects
On Friday I shared an update on the pledges I made in the 2019 election and progress on them. Here's an update on two specific projects.
My office and I manage or monitor and update a list of about 30 projects at any given time: some of which we initiated (like the Sudbrook Community Garden and Oval Park below), some are situations we react to (e.g Hucclecote Post Office: still work in progress), others we get involved with when they stall and need prodding (the A38 at Llanthony was one of those: the next will be the Blackbridge Community Sports Hub): and several where we’re involved either as partners of the idea (like the Westgate mini Arboretum and the Green Energy Park) or of both the idea and funding (Railway Station improvements, with both the LEP and City Council on the Growth Fund: and also with GWR on the Station Improvement Fund; both from government).
I leave aside all Heritage projects for this update, which take up a lot of time (not least as founder and Chair of the recently finished 11th Gloucester History Festival). I’ll do an update on all those before long, success is important for this City of Heritage, looking forward as well as back.
Here’s an update on two exciting community projects:
- The Sudbrook Community Garden, off Tarrington Rd/Paul St. This was an idea I had in 2018 when the long awaited housing by Markey / Rooftop was being built on the old Norville site off Paul St, over looking the Sudbrook and with an empty concrete space on its other side (off Melbourne St East). Barton & Tredworth has the least green space of any ward in Gloucester, and so I was keen to reclaim this area and see something green and attractive created for residents and their children. Rooftop, the City Council and local Councillor Patel agreed. Post 2021 elections and the Environment Minister’s visit this is moving forward quite fast, with funding agreed, all three local Councillors enthusiastic and a proposed design for feedback.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow with Rooftop Housing
Do join the local consultation which is taking place this Thursday 7th October (see details below). Now is the time for local resident involvement.
- The Oval Park Restoration, close to Tuffley Avenue in Linden. During Lockdown 2020 I took a lot of exercise in this small park close to where we live. It’s of historical interest and most importantly much used and appreciated by residents today, for dog walking, sports and (post pandemic) social get togethers.
But the two lines of overgrown leylandii trees either side of the tennis courts closed off views, blocked off light, concealed anti social behaviour and made the place less secure and less attractive to go to.
So I asked the City Council to cut and replace them with native shrubs and different trees, which they’ve done, with the strong approval of residents I’ve spoken to.
I believe the Park and residents would benefit from a wider resurfacing of the (slightly dangerous) tennis courts, and I invited the City Council, the Chair of the Linden Residents Association, the Environment Minister and the Lawn Tennis Association to visit as part of collecting ideas about environmentally friendly improvements and sources of funds.
At around the same time local resident Tim Cook was creating a Friends of The Oval group, organised a survey and a clean up and has most recently put forward some good ideas in an application for City Council for funding (eg improvements to entrances).
Things are coming together encouragingly, with my office pursuing funding for new tennis courts as part of the Restoration of The Oval.
The park is already in a better place than it was, and I’m optimistic that in a year or so things will be even better, if Councillors, Friends of The Oval and other residents agree on the way forward.
Richard with reps of LTA, including Enzo Mora - Chair of Glos LTA, and the Environment Minister
Community projects are the absolute bedrock of what happens across our City. If you don’t live in Tredworth you won’t necessarily ever go to what will be the Sudbrook Community Garden: and if you don’t live close to the Oval you won’t necessarily go there either. But where we live, and the green spaces around us, matters hugely. Look what a difference the Park in Tuffley has made to residents near Tuffley Park, and the Big Local in Podsmead.
That’s why I spend time thinking about community projects. Some need no help and have great local leadership Friends of Hillfield Gardens: others need ideas and some need help to get to the stage where the local community get involved and then take ownership. Others like the Green Energy & Eco Park are big, and I’ll always be involved.
The truth is that for too long some of our communities’ green spaces and their potential got overlooked for too long. Levelling Up is not just about big projects and our £20 million bid for the City Centre, it’s also about small and important parks and gardens across the city. If ever there was a time to think about how to make Gloucester Britain’s Greenest Small City, this is it. So if any reader has an idea for a project in your ward, please let me know.
PS. By happy coincidence the government has agreed that levelling up tennis courts for community use is a very good thing, allocating £30m to refurbish Community Courts, and you can be sure that a bid from Gloucester will be going in once we’ve studied the details.