Project proposal for the relocation of the playground on Chippenham Mead.
Prepared for: Monmouth Town Council
Prepared by: Rachel Jupp, Catherine Ashby & Richard Tonkin on behalf of Friends of Chippenham Mead
28 November 2016
The children’s playground on Chippenham Mead is an asset for the town which is now in urgent need of replacing. Thanks to the efforts of the town and county councils, it is scheduled to be improved using s106 money. Whilst we fully support the initiative to upgrade the play equipment, Friends of Chippenham Mead does not believe this goes far enough towards supplying a play area which adequately meets today’s needs.
We propose that the single most important improvement which could be made to the playground would be to relocate it to a safe, visible and family-friendly location on the village green. This location would be away from the A40 and towards the town centre. As well as diminishing the negative effects of the dual carriageway on the health and happiness of playground users, and the positive benefits it would bring to those who need an appropriate space to play in, the town as a whole would enjoy the boost given by having an attractive amenity right on its doorstep.
We aim to show that our proposal can be achieved using the available funding, that it is technically viable and low risk, and that it is feasible within the timeframe laid out for the spending of funds. We have consulted the relevant bodies to ascertain that our proposal meets the standards laid out by the Planning Authority and Natural Resources Wales. In other words, our proposal poses no greater risk to retention of s106 funds than refurbishing the playground in its current location, and in its overwhelming favour offers a multitude of benefits for the town, its inhabitants and visitors.
Friends of Chippenham Mead is a charity whose stated aims are to maintain and enhance the village green, to encourage thoughtful custodianship and to champion Chippenham Mead for all people, from all walks of life. We are an open group and welcome new members who share our aims.
The playground was in existence long before the routing of the A40 through Monmouth. Looking at a map of Chippenham Mead, it is clear to see what a difference the A40 has made to this large green space: the dual carriageway carves a straight line through it, severing the town from the Wye and bisecting the village green. Unfortunately for the playground, this has meant that over time it has come to have as its closest neighbour a busy and polluting main road. Further development to Chippenham Mead in the form of a flood defence or ‘bund’ has meant that the playground stands isolated from the main body of open space, contributing to its inaccessibility.
As a local charity dedicated to supporting Chippenham Mead for the benefit of all users and residents, our proposal has been developed as a direct response to wide-ranging engagement with the local community. A petition, arguing the current location is not fit for purpose and pushing for its relocation, was organised in Spring 2016. This petition attracted over 500 signatures. We undertook a survey to give us further details about the motivating factors for retaining or relocating the playground:
As children are the reason for the playground’s existence in the first place, we sought their views on what they would like to see in their playground. A ‘Design Your Dream Playground’ competition among local school children attracted over 200 entries and provided us with the opportunity to engage with the playground’s future users and discover what they would most like to see and what they most value in a playground.
We propose to relocate the playground from its existing location next the A40 to an equivalent area of land at the most visible point of the village green, near the town’s ‘gateway’. The proposed triangular area, bordered by a tree-lined path on one side and the Sports Ground fence on the other, with Blestium Street running alongside its shortest edge, is a patch of equal size to the existing playground but with none of its attendant problems.
In terms of a bonus for the town, the provision of a playground in this location would bring life and community to a neglected - but nonetheless prominent - area of the village green. Smartening up a corner of Chippenham Mead which currently suffers from a lack of care and attention, the sight of pleasant play area would be a welcome one to any visitor traversing the new bridge into town, and in particular, it would encourage families to stay longer in Monmouth, armed with the knowledge that the main play area was a short walk from the high street shops and tourist attractions.
MCC, if it gives approval to our project proposal, will ask Welsh Government for permission to relocate the playground on Chippenham Mead. A response is likely to take six months. This hiatus will allow time for finalising a playground design and selecting suppliers, preparing and submitting a planning application, and the response of the planning authority. In June 2017, MCC will review the spending of s106 money: as the project will be well underway by this point, in terms of planning and approval, the funds allocated to the playground will be safe from reallocation to other projects. Once the way is cleared for purchase and installation, the playground should be completed by October 2017.BUDGET
Friends of Chippenham Mead commissioned several renowned playground design companies to come up with plans for an alternative play area. We drew attention to the need for exciting play equipment (as highlighted by our competition and survey) using natural materials (as stipulated in pre-app planning advice). We include the table below to give an indication of the likely costs, subject to MCC Planning approval. Returning the existing playground to open green space is included in the total cost for the project.