Chris Kane is the Chair of both Braehead & Broomridge Community Development Trust and Braehead Community Council. In 2017, he’ll be publishing a regular series of blogs on what both organisations are doing within our community.
I’m delighted to be able to share with you the first look at a design which could totally reinvent one of our key community spaces. The park at Afton Court is looking tired and in need of a revamp and your Community Development Trust has been looking at this for some time now.
(blog continues below image…)
We applied for some funding to help us employ a designer and we’ve had some early consultations within the community (there will be many, many more consultations in the months ahead) to test some theories we have.
My kids always ask if they can go to the Kings Park or Beechwood Park; they never ask if they can go to the Afton Court Park. I want to change that. I believe every community should have at least one awesome park. I also believe we all need to move a little bit more.
Given the size of the space at Afton Court, I don’t think the kids should have all the fun to themselves. That’s why I’m delighted that this design has elements for everybody.
You’ll notice in this design there is a 200m track running around the perimeter. This will allow mums and dads (and grans and granddads) to get moving while their kids are playing. Or if you feel so inclined, there are fitness stations along the way; pieces of outdoor gym equipment to help you work on individual muscles.
A good park should give a workout for the mind as well as the body. So we’ve included a “sculpture and sensory” garden, which I hope will have fun elements for all ages.
The biggest area of the design is labelled “playpark”. I want this to be the coolest, most awesome, most fun playpark for the kids of Braehead. But I’ve no idea what that contains – that will be up to the kids to decide. We’ll work with kids at Braehead Primary School and the local Guides and Scouts to work out what this bit of the design should contain.
There’s also a toddler play area which would have dedicated equipment. There is a “sports area” with a basketball hoop and a small football net – which will complement the football pitch over the road next to the Crawford Hall. Around the perimeter there are fruit trees. My kids always ask if they can go to the shop for a sweet on the way back from the park. I may be being overly optimistic, but I love the idea of them being able to pick their own snack right from the trees around them.
Stirling Council don’t have the funds to deliver a park on this scale. But we have a track record of ambitious thinking, backed up with evidence that we can deliver as a community when we work together. We’ve already raised £250,000 to build Braehead Community Garden. We’ve raised thousands more since then to enhance the Community Garden with everything from a picnic area to a wetland. We have volunteers who aren’t phased by big thinking because we’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.
At Braehead Community Garden, we’ve begun to redefine our relationship with locally grown food. At Braehead Community Park we need to continue our journey to better physical and mental health by getting everybody moving more and having fun together.
I’ll be having conversations with potential funders in the coming weeks and months. I’ll be talking with Stirling Council to figure out exactly how this partnership project will come together. There will be community conversations where we’ll all have an opportunity to shape this project – from the ambition to the individual elements we want to see in the park when it is finished.
Playpark designers tell me there shouldn’t be fences between toddler play and older kids play areas, because kids will always push themselves to try harder things. Grown ups could do with remembering how to do that. Let’s agree to create this together.
The design you see today may change completely as we gather views and ideas. It may not happen in one go – it may be something we deliver over time. It may not happen at all if we can’t convince funders to support us. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into this project in the coming months.
If you’d like to help, or have ideas, then look out for community consultation events in the coming months. Or drop me an email and get involved –