Alexandra Park

Pollinator Project update

Dear Park Users

We hope during the current situation you are continuing to enjoy using your park and just wanted to update you on progress with the proposed works.  If you have been able to use the park as part of your daily exercise regime, you will have noticed some major developments over the recent months.

The veterans’ hut

Following a successful planning application, the old veterans hut was demolished in February, and services from the building were made safe. This initial phase was an important one, as it was the catalyst for other works in the Park. The veterans hut was dangerous and disused; it contained asbestos, as well as having loose wiring and a dilapidated roof.

There were also signs of anti-social behaviour taking place behind the veterans hut and many park visitors have already expressed their pleasure at its removal.  We are continuing to finalise improvements to services – to enable water supplies to be used for ongoing park maintenance, as and if necessary to the completion of this area. New fencing will be erected to repair broken sections and extend the boundary fencing to protect adjacent property fencing. Proposals include a large pollinator flower bed, with some native plant species and tree planting to help screen and soften the boundary. Bird and bat boxes are also proposed to encourage biodiversity.

Public art and interpretation

Residents also had the opportunity to meet the public artist commissioned to design the bug hotels that will be installed in the park. Following initial engagement with local primary schools, Katayoun Dowlatshahi showcased her concept designs to residents at a community drop-in event held in Hoole community centre. Katayoun was grateful for the fantastic feedback, and has been creating some amazing pieces of work to install when the pollinator beds are ready.

Each design aims to attract various pollinators and alongside new planting it is hoped that they will make the park their new home. A series of interpretation boards, relating to the bug hotels will encourage learning and understanding for all ages and create visual interest linking the various installations. Artwork is being fabricated and manufactured off site, ready for installation.

Earlier in the year, existing shrub and flower beds were selectively thinned and pruned to help regenerate mature areas of shrubs and create open areas for new pollinator loving plants. Many park users have again already said they are pleased with the improvements from maintenance works to the existing plants. We have aimed to do this sensitively, removing overhanging branches and encroachment onto adjacent footpaths, maintaining screening but allowing glimpses through and into green and open areas. Only dead or dying trees have been removed.

Footpath improvements

Many park users have commented upon the recent improved tarmac surfacing. We have graded back old surfaces, cleaned out existing drainage and added soakaways. Some new sections of kerbing have been installed and we have cleared back to existing edging. A chipping finish is proposed, similar to that in Grosvenor Park, this is likely to be completed once the works to planting beds have been completed, to avoid damage to completed surfaces. Equally some surfaces around the toilet block are not yet fully completed, to allow for improvement works around the building. Thank you for your patience, again there are additional difficulties for staff and contractors progressing and completing works at this time. The priority had been to ensure tarmac works were completed to ensure easy pedestrian usage for permitted daily exercise during the pandemic.

Toilet block and pavillion

Following planning approval for the proposed improvements to toilet facilities, we are currently working to fulfill conditions before to starting work. Delays have been experienced due to pandemic requirements, but we are looking to progress works as soon as possible.

You can see the approved plans for the pavilion renovation by clicking the following link:

https://pa.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=PZXPS2TEMMP00&activeTab=summary

The coronavirus pandemic has ultimately halted and delayed the project. We had proposed to re-stock the flower beds in April or May to give the new pollinator plants time to establish. However, due to travel restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic planting was postponed. As a result of this, some of the bare root specimen tree/plant stock we would have been using will have to be planted later in the year.

As a result of the updated Government guidelines issued on 10 May, we are ready to allow contractors back onsite. All contractors have supplied coronavirus Risk and Method Statements (RAMS) and will, where they can and as permitted, follow social distancing rules.

Initial work will involve the preparation of borders ready for the new shrubs and perennials, and to define areas for installation of the ‘bug hotels’. A watering regime will also be in place to ensure they thrive.

We are working with the conservation architect Recclesia, to start renovations to the toilet block. It will be necessary to cordon off this section of the park until the renovation is complete, but it is hoped this will cause minimum disruption to park users. It will also be necessary to temporarily reduce access to sections of the park while planting is in progress.

We ask that you don’t approach the contractors, for your safety and theirs. Progress will be made and we ask for patience, understanding and support to help us realise completion in these unprecedented times.

The Friends of Alexandra Park Chair, Roger Davey, said:

“Over the past few years, I know that local residents have been concerned about maintenance and investment in Alexandra Park. I am sure that, like me, park users will now be delighted at the Council’s plan for upgrades and refurbishments of our beautiful park which is underway. Our current situation has underlined the importance of this historic amenity to the well-being of local residents.  It is great to know that the future of the park with its play, tennis and bowling facilities is being duly secured in this way.”

If you would like to become a Friend of Alexandra Park, or volunteer your time to help maintain the pollinator park once the project is completed, please contact friendsofalexandraparkhoole@gmail.com.

Thank you and stay safe.