As many many residents will have noticed, Council teams have made a start on the project to improve the recreation facilities and the biodiversity on the George V Play Field (see photo below). In January, work began to create a series of insect habitats made of soil and logs. In March, the initial bank and ditch furrow was dug for the perimiter biodiversity bank. Those who watched will know that we used an agricultural plough which cut and turned the turf which piling it up, so the grass was buried (together with its worms and other soil fauna) and a new surface created for wildfower seed mixes etc.
On March 8th councillors received an update from the City Council's lead officer as follows:
The current updated anticipated timescales for completion of each element are as follows:
1.Biodiversity Measures: our Biodiversity Officer has drawn up a revised proposal . See attached plan and outline reasoning
Implementation expected March 2022.
2. Tree Planting: to commence in the next planting season December 2022 to end of March 2023.
3. Additional Seating: locations to be further considered for benches/picnic benches and bench repairs. Implementation expected Summer 2022. Seating Shelter re-installation provisional item (potential budget constraints) potential implementation March 2023.
4.Installation of access point via a lockable gateway: implementation expected Summer 2022. [this is now expected in June 2022]
Please look here for an outline plan of George V Play Field.
A lockable gate which will be installed (see photo below), together with appropriate fencing, to complete the boundary while the trees and shrubs grow up.
Although the beetle banks had explanatory signs attached, and the new trees have notices encouraging us to water them, it was not possible to explain what the ploughed banks were all about, so there was much speculation on social media! We look forward to more detailed planting schedules and guidance on maintenance for interested local volunteers.
There has also been disquiet among those who enjoy running and exercising around the edge of the playing field, because the new banks are now occupying some of that space, and the shrubs and shade trees will also grow more substantial in years to come. This is inevitable in a shared multi-purpose public open space like Byron Square, but we hope to make this as collaborative a process as possible as the scheme develops. As already happens, some seating designs lend themselves to being used for stepping and stretching. There will also be scope for more specialist fitness equipment and structures on the active recreation areas being developed on Hobsons Park. The exact locations of new seating have yet to be decided.
Obviously, the recent illegal camping has drawn attention to conflicts which can result from some users sharing this space, and councillors will also be investigating the pros and cons of installing barriers at some key access points.
Cllr Hauk discussing the biodiversity improvements with a local resident at Byron Square
The type of gate to be installed on the play field in June
Outline of George V Recreation Ground and recent improvements