History of The Pool Piece Project
The project was designed to enhance and improve an area of land in the middle of the village, known as Pool Piece. The land was originally designated as a public open space and children’s play area. However, its steep incline made access difficult, particularly for push chairs, the elderly or disabled. This was compounded in wet weather when it became wet and muddy. The nature of the existing slope also made games very difficult and there was only limited seating and no shelter.
A working group was set up to explore how Pool Piece could be improved as ‘a village green’. Following wide consultation within the village the group’s priorities were established. These were to provide a flat area for children to play as well as providing stimulating play equipment. The group also wanted to enable activities such as fetes, outside drama/music productions, picnics and provide a welcoming community area for residents and visitors to relax and play as well as providing an attractive environment for wild life. Following a successful bid to Biffa Award and working in partnership with Community Action Ledbury and District, the project was initiated in August 2013. Biffa Award not only made the project possible but their guidance and advice throughout was invaluable.
Stage one was to clear the land, cut hedges, prune trees and remove many of the more thuggish plants and weeds that had established themselves as well as clearing a stream that ran through the middle of the land. The latter was often blocked and caused flooding in heavy rain.
The next stage was to reshape the landscape and provide a banked auditorium feature and an area of flat land for play, village games and activities. Land drains were dug to help alleviate flooding. Following consultation with the children in the village play equipment and games were selected and additional paths and seating established. Key features were the construction of a curved bridge to improve access on to the site as well as the building of an open-sided wooden shelter to provide shade and protection from inclement weather. The emphasis throughout the project was to create an
attractive and natural area. To reinforce these aims cleared areas around the stream have been planted with snowdrops, native daffodils and snakes head fritillaries. In addition 17 native species of marsh loving plants were introduced along the stream and new hedging, shrubs and trees were planted. These have already helped in creating a more environmentally attractive area to encourage insects and bird life.
Members of the community have undertaken a range of activities including the making of wicker gates, seats, weeding and planting as well as contributing play materials and games for the children and c ideas for future activities. A storage box has been created and filled with games and equipment, (eg. badminton sets, boules, racquets). Children have helped in clearing the stream, trimming trees and hedges and acting as .guardians to the site reporting any litter or damage caused by people or the weather.
The finished project has been very well received with very positive responses from residents and visitors to the village.
As one resident commented ‘this has given a real community space to the village which is not only attractive but multi functional. It provides a safe area for children and an area for village events’, There also appears to be a growing sense of ownership by the community.