Councils are always on the look out for innovative and economical ways to foster healthy lifestyles, particularly since their public health budgets have been dramatically reduced. One way to do this has been to ensure communities are making the most of their green spaces. Eastleigh Borough Council has been doing just this with their transformation of Grantham Green.
The local authority commissioned an open spaces strategy, assessing parks against 14 socio-economic and planning factors to identify those in greatest need of improvement. Grantham Green, with its lack of facilities and its close proximity to three schools and three primary schools, scored the highest.
Eastleigh Borough Council held informal community meetings to learn what local residents wanted from a public park. The ideas that came back suggested the community wanted a park with varied and interesting topography with new banks, paths, trees, native and ornamental shrubs and extensive wildflower and bulb planting. They also wanted seating designed by an artist and picnic tables based on local children’s sketches.
The final design involved dividing the green into a series of spaces by a network of mounds and planting. This meant that the area could not be perceived all at once, a design feature that introduces the experience of discovery.
The existing children’s play area has been retained but partially screened by earthworks and planting, and the new mounds provide important natural play value. A funding bid by Mencap enabled the creation of a stumpery, using tree stumps on their sides to display their beauty and create niche habitats for shade tolerant plants and wildlife.
In the south-west corner of Grantham Green there is a multi-use games area and a bespoke rock climbing wall set into the largest mound. The existing teen shelter will have improved surfacing.
A larger space at the east side is an area of mown grass kept relatively open to provide a flexible space for informal sports activity, dog walking, games and events.
There will also be wild flower areas and a horticultural display to increase the green’s aesthetic appeal, natural play and ecological value.
Submitted by: Mark Ellison, Urban/Landscape Design Specialist, Eastleigh Borough Council
Contractors: Eastleigh Borough Council Streetscene, Gracelands and Scandor Landscape Contractors
Suppliers: HAGS-SMP, Rockworks, Wildflower Turf, Hillier Nurseries, A Frost Design, Ashwells Timber and Lubbe & Sons