By Frances Solomon
Residents and families are coming together to set up a group to help improve and develop Hollingdean Park in Lynchet Close.
Friends of Hollingdean Park is a new community action group focused on adding to current play equipment, maintaining facilities and making the park more appealing to residents and children.
It was started by Polly Charlton, a parent who lives on Hollingbury Rise, and regularly goes to the park with her daughter.
Supporting her is Liz Lee a community development worker from The Trust for Developing Communities, who will help the group fundraise and meet with council members.
Brighton and Hove City Council’s parks department bought new equipment. However Mrs Lee, who was commissioned by the authority to help the campaigners and Ms Charlton, felt a friend group would improve communication to help the council spend money more effectively.
Ms Charlton said: “The park is a great space for the local community to meet and enjoy being outdoors and this is great for everyone’s mental, emotional and physical well-being.
“I think Friends of Hollingdean Park can offer the opportunity for people to feel involved in the development of their local environment which can create a sense of ownership and empowerment for the local community.”
Proposed improvements include planting trees for shade, painting play equipment, improving the entrance onto the South Downs, creating a cycling trail and putting in more dog bins. Mrs Lee said: “The residents are positive about what they’d like to see happen here, it’s about what they want to do improve their park and keep it nice.
“It’s for the group to say and decide what will be done, my job is to support residents. I’ll help with funding, arranging meetings – my role is to give them support and empower them.” Members said they needed a way to move ideas forward as they found council budgets for parks restricted and they hoped that by involving the community they could make changes more easily.
Tracy Hill, Hollingdean councillor, said: “It’s great that local people are getting together to look after this space. Hollingdean Park has a lot to offer – there’s a nice view, it’s a lovely place to sit and enjoy the outdoors, there’s a range of equipment for all ages, some of it brand new, and there are allotments and an orchard, as well as the South Downs right on the doorstep.
“It would be lovely to see the space become more of a hub, as it’s a bit under-used at the moment.”
A cafe in the neighbouring children’s centre adds to the park’s appeal and is staffed volunteers on Saturdays.
The council is recruiting people to run the cafe during the week. Karen Hood, a group member lives on Hollingbury Road, said: “I’d like to see the park done up. The park had some recent funding, but there is a need for some new projects – it deserves more attention, even just simple things doing to it.”
Using the money left from the council’s budget for the park, the friends decided to paint equipment. There are also plans to build an online presence to encourage more people to join.
The group is having a meeting on Thursday, June 9 at 9.30am at Hollingdean Park, which is open to everyone, to begin painting and to share ideas for improving the entrance to the South Downs.
For more information contact Liz Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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