Appeal for community playground on former Calverley bowling green

Appeal for community playground on former Calverley bowling green

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Calverley Grounds

A group of people determined to create a ‘very special’ community playground is urging anyone interested to show their support to make the idea a reality.

The volunteers, who hope to build the play area on the former bowling green in Calverley Grounds, say a meeting in Christ Church, High Street, next week is the ‘last hurdle’ to overcome before they can start work.

Rhiannon Harfoot, who has been working on the idea for three years, said: “We want to show how successful the community can be when it rallies round something so transformative.

“I’m not really sure how I got involved. I was living near the park and felt an area for children was missing.

“I’ve got two young children but also, I think there’s a part of all of us that feels people should be able to get these things done.”

Mrs Harfoot, 36, and her fellow volunteer Kate Bourne said the play area will be ‘different’ from others, designed to be in keeping with its surroundings and to reflect Tunbridge Wells’ history.

The plans, designed by award-winning landscape architect Jennette Emery-Wallis who lives locally, will be revealed to the public at next week’s meeting.

Mrs Bourne said: “It’s going to be very special, and totally unique.

“It’s not just a slide and swings, it’ll let children’s imaginations run free, and it’ll be suitable for all abilities, for ages 0 to 12.

“It’ll be designed to get children working together, in collaborative play, which is really important.

“At the moment, there’s nothing for children, which is surprising in a town like this. But the play area will benefit everyone, not just parents but the whole town because it’ll transform an unloved corner of the park into something beautiful.”

If there is enough support – and Mrs Harfoot says feedback so far has been positive – the volunteers can then start applying for various grants, as well as organising fundraising events.

Mrs Harfoot said: “It will need the community to come together to make it a reality. It needs community support in people coming to the meeting but also in funding it.”

Mother of two Mrs Bourne added: “We need you at the meeting, showing the council we’ve got enough support is the final hurdle.

“I took the plans to my son’s school and the teacher said she’d never seen them sit so still for so long. Having worked so hard on it, seeing their faces, at the thought of somewhere special  they could be proud of, was absolutely amazing.”

Cllr Jane March, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council portfolio holder for leisure and tourism, said: “I am in favour of using the redundant area in Calverley Grounds for the benefit of young children, and look forward to discussing the plans further.”

The meeting starts at 8pm on Tuesday, October 13. For more information, or to make a donation or offer support, email rhiannonharfoot@hotmail.co.uk or katejroberts@gmail.com