Case Study - Hillyfields Community Park

In conjunction with Medway Council, Groundwork Kent & Medway has been working on a long-standing project to create a quality urban park at Hillyfields in Gillingham, Kent. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Medway Liveability and Section 106 funding has generated £665,000 towards the project. A survey undertaken with the local community yielded a very positive response to the suggestion of developing the park and work on phase one has now been completed.

The site is a large informal open space with some remnant orchard located in the densely populated Medway Ward close to the centre of Gillingham. It was in the ownership of Kent County Council and used informally as a playing field by Hillyfields Junior School until the establishment of Medway Unitary Authority. It was then transferred to Medway Council in 1999. The site had never been developed as a park and as such it lacked any infrastructure such as paths, lighting, seating, amenity and structural planting. The site is currently used for informal recreation by the local community and is only one of two significant open spaces available for public access in the area.

After the initial community consultation took place a Masterplan was prepared in response to peoples ideas. Phase one looked to rid the park of its main problems, including vandalism, cars and motorbikes on the park and the lack of security. The park has now been transformed with the installation of high quality paving and railings, turning it into a place which is safe, secure and accessible to all.

Ian Fleming, Greenspace Development and Special Projects Officer from Medway Council said “This project has taken many years of hard work to get off the ground, but finally we have been able to make a real difference to the park. Working in partnership with Groundwork Kent & Medway we have been able to deliver a project which meets the needs of the local community.”

The ‘Friends of Hillyfields’ community group have provided regular feedback to the project managers at Groundwork, updating them on any issues with anti-social behaviour in the park, and concerns within the local community. The group meet regularly to discuss local issues with the park, and provide a format for Medway Council and Groundwork to liaise and communicate with the local community. So far the group have been involved with the Hillyfest event and have also organised their own planting days and litter picks.

Karen Partridge, Community Projects Officer at Groundwork said, “The group are really keen to make a difference to their local park. They recently became constituted which will allow them to apply for funding to become more actively involved with the project, and they will now be working with Groundwork towards the implementation of phase two.”

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Panoramic view of Hillyfields Community Park

Hillyfields Community Park

Before and after shots of two entrances to the Park

Hillyfields Community Park     Hillyfields Community Park

Hillyfields Community Park     Hillyfields Community Park

Members of the 'Friends of Hillyfields' group organise a litter pick

Hillyfields Community Park

Artwork from pupil's attending the local school

Hillyfields Community Park     Hillyfields Community Park

 

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