Town set for £1.2m recreation boost

By Mark Elson   |   Senior Reporter   |
Wednesday 17th May 2017 7:15 am
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•Coleford mayor Paul Kay says the development of the Bells Field Recreation Area will be a major asset to the town.

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PLANS for a £1.2m recreation park “for all ages” have been given the go ahead in Coleford.

The decision to transform the former Bells Grammar School sports area has been greeted as “fabulous news for the whole community”, which will provide the town with “a major asset”.

Forest of Dean planners passed the Coleford Town Council plan last week for the nine-acre Bells Field Recreation Area site on Lords Hill, which will include a skate park, bike pump track and multi-use games area for youngsters, plus a wildlife garden with a pond, an amphitheatre, World War One memorial area, fitness exercise points and fully accessible ‘trim trail’ path.

There will also be large green areas for picnicking, kick-a-bouts, dog walking and playing, and tree, shrub and bulb planting and meadow areas will provide an attractive landscape with a diverse variety of habitats.

Mayor of Coleford Paul Kay said: “We think it’s fabulous news for the town, and it will be a major asset to the community.

“It will be a tremendous addition for all ages, from youngsters right the way through to pensioners, for the whole community.”

Around three-quarters of the money has been secured, largely from housing developers paying towards new leisure facilities, and the town council are now seeking more funding to develop the park, opposite the Bells Golf Club, next year.

Parking for up to 20 cars will be provided on the site, which will be open 24 hours a day and also include a toilet block and storage building, while the current stone wall beside the main road will be replaced by railings.

Town clerk Annie Lappington said: “The parish has not had any recreation facilities except sport pitches for the wider community, so this is a major development.

“The skate park, dirt track and marked out multi-use sports area for football, basketball, tennis and the like, with all weather surface, will be close together, and we hope to put wi-fi there as well.

“The World War One memorial garden, which will probably be dedicated to Coleford Victoria Cross winner Angus Buchanan, will contain a bespoke bench in the shape of a VC, and there will also be a wildlife garden with a pond.

“A ‘trim trail’ around the site will be fully accessible to wheelchairs, and will include gym equipment points for those wanting to exercise and distance markers for walkers and joggers.

“A large green space area will lead onto a lookout point at the top of the hill, looking down on an amphitheatre with seating cut into the bank for small scale performances like acoustic music and plays, which schools have already expressed an interest in using.

“The council is also hoping to commission local artists to do some public art celebrating the area’s heritage,” she added.

“Townspeople have been so supportive and the council has sought to respond to what they wanted. It’s exciting news for the council and community to be given the go ahead, and hopefully it will be open by late summer to autumn 2018.”

Meanwhile, Forest Council planners have deferred a decision on a new recreation park in Newent for talks over demolishing a changing room building.

The council’s own application is to change two fields south west of Meadow Grove into a multi-use recreation ground with changing rooms, games area and car parking.

It includes a pond with wetland areas created by low bunds, a large grass space, four gym areas, a wildlife meadow and a multi-use games pitch.

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