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Ivybridge Residents Design Woodlands Park (The Spinney)

3 March 2021

The wildlife pond at Woodlands Park, Ivybridge, known locally as The Spinney

Thanks to feedback and ideas from over 300 local people, work is now underway to make Woodlands Park (The Spinney), Ivybridge an even more welcoming place for people and wildlife.

The improvement work, which has now started, includes enhancing the wildlife pond area, planting more trees, replacing timeworn benches, and providing an additional piece of play equipment for 6-11 year olds.

Ideas on what to do at the park were gathered via an online survey at the end of 2020. This information was used to form South Hams District Council's plan to carry out improvements in a way that truly meets local needs.

The survey found that local people really like the size and openness of the park and that it feels safe and secure and is good for children and dog-walking. However, local people also highlighted that the play equipment was only suitable for very young children and that the pond area could be better.  As a result, these are key areas that are being targeted for the makeover. 

What local people told South Hams District Council they want:

  • 93% would like to see improvements to the wildlife pond area
  • 85% would like to enhance the park for wildlife by leaving some areas of grass to grow longer
  • 78% want more seating
  • 78% support additional play equipment
  • 73% want more trees to be planted

Local residents will already have seen some improvements being made at the park. This includes work on the wildlife pond area, including the pond dipping area, which started this week. The plan to plant new trees has got underway, with a day scheduled later in the spring for volunteers to get involved with tree planting too. A further consultation will now be held to determine exactly what type of play equipment will be added to the park, with an aim to have this equipment ready for use in the summer/autumn.

The money for the improvement project has largely come from the section 106 agreement made with Persimmon Homes, the firm behind the local Harford Mews development. Further funding, specifically for tree planting, has come from the Langage Landscape Fund following the development of the energy centre near Plympton.

As part of the improvements programme, there's also a one-off opportunity for local residents to purchase half price memorial benches or trees at the park. The cost for a bench is £800 (normally £1,800) to include installation, a commemorative plaque and a 10-year maintenance scheme. The cost for a tree is £140 (normally £280) to include purchase, planting, a commemorative plaque, and follow up maintenance. There is an opportunity for donors to get involved helping to plant the trees depending on future government restrictions. 

South Hams District Councillor, Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "The importance of parks and green spaces for our local communities has really come to the fore during recent times. We want to make sure that our local places work for everyone to provide a space to play, relax and generally enhance well-being. That means we need to know exactly what the people who use these spaces want. I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to have their say on what we should do at Woodlands Park by completing the survey.

"Local people told us they need better seating, would like the pond area to be enhanced, want more trees and that there was a need for play equipment for older children at the park. We've listened and this is exactly what we're going to deliver. Thanks to the fantastic level of feedback, we are confident that the work we carry out will really meet the individual needs of local people of all ages."

Cllr Lance Austen, Ward Councillor for Ivybridge West, added: "From bat boxes and bug hotels to new picnic benches, thank you everyone who shared your brilliant ideas on how we can make Woodlands Park better for the people (and wildlife) that use it. Unfortunately we could not action every single suggestion that we received as we simply don't have enough money to do everything. However, we are using the money we do have as effectively as possible to enhance facilities for all. For example, although wider paths were suggested we felt that our existing paths are good compared to other parks and the large cost of widening paths would be better spent on other improvements.

"Depending on COVID-restrictions, we hope to hold volunteer days for tree-planting too - so look out for notices in the park or please get in touch to find out more. This space is close to the hearts of many local people, so we're also offering the chance to purchase memorial benches and commemorative plaques for trees. It is an exciting time and we're sure that the planned improvements will make visiting the park more enjoyable for everyone." 

South Hams District Council is pleased to find that the park is regularly-used, with 84% of survey respondents saying they use the park daily or weekly. The key facilities are also well-used, with 68% stating they use the play area, 66% using the benches and 63% using the wildlife pond and picnic area.

The Council has declared a Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency and is looking for opportunities within parks and green spaces to enhance biodiversity and offset the effects of Climate Change.   

Further information on the survey results and planned works can be found at: www.engagement.southhams.gov.uk/woodlands-park-ivybridge

To register your interest in a memorial bench or tree, please contact South Hams District Council at parks@swdevon.gov.uk or call 01803 861234.

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