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Plans for a community park at Papdale move a step closer

Plans for a community park at Papdale move a step closer
26 April 2021

Plans are progressing for an exciting development within the Papdale area of Kirkwall which could see an area of green space transformed into a community park for all ages and abilities.

Last week (20 April) members of the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee approved both the stage two capital project appraisal and the submission of a planning application for the first phase of the “Help Shape the Future of Papdale” project.

Phase one of the project forms the Council-led development of the wider park space which will pave the way forward for phase two and the Papdale East Play Association (PEPA) led project to rejuvenate and completely redevelop the play area.

Grants have been applied for and, if successful, Councillors at the Policy and Resources Committee have recommended the Council make up the shortfall. Further details will be available at a later date.

The proposed development of the area originated from the Your Kirkwall Place Plan 2018 and the Council’s Play Area Strategy.

Phase one work will include the introduction of active travel routes and meadow areas, alongside de-culverting and meandering of the Papdale burn within a designed landscape, all to create a safe multi-functional and biodiverse environment and reduce potential flooding in the area, which is a priority within the wider strategic climate change perspective. This will, in effect, see the burn restored to a more natural state, with gently sloping grassy banks, much like the Willows open space.

The works will also include the removal of the play equipment, which is now at the end of its life, and the space levelled and regraded for the new play area.

Through an extensive Your Kirkwall community engagement process in 2018-2019, PEPA brought forward ideas to improve the play park, which would complement the wider community aspirations for a better-quality green space with shelter, plants and improved footpath and cycle ways in the area.

Since then, a concept design for the park was prepared with the community in 2019. This involved a questionnaire, three community drop-in sessions, workshops with the voluntary sector, Kirkwall Grammar School, Papdale Primary, the Council, an advertising campaign and a design competition. The process resulted in two options for the development of the park.

The community’s preferred concept is now being taken forward to a planning application by a design team led by HarrisonStevens, who have been working with OIC, PEPA and other stakeholders on the detailed design work and funding sources. The plans will be shared within an open exhibition to be hosted at a venue to be confirmed. The community will have an opportunity to comment on the planning application.

The design team would like to reach as many potential consultees as possible. Exhibition boards will be mounted at suitable locations outlining some of the proposals and it is hoped a lot of people will be interested in viewing the detailed design of the preferred concept within the open exhibition (adhering to all Covid-19 restrictions in place at the time).

OIC Sport and Leisure Manager, Garry Burton, said: “This exciting development meets the aims set out within the Orkney Play Area Strategy whereby deficiencies are identified in some areas with regard to play area provision that would benefit from development and improvement. Papdale East is identified as a priority 1 play area in the Councils Play Area Strategy, meaning that it is in need of immediate development.

“The community engagement process has really seen the public come on board with this proposed project from the outset.

“There are many benefits to be had from the phase one part of the development including the de-culverting and meandering of the Papdale Burn, which will much reduce the risk of flooding to properties in the vicinity as well as helping to reduce flood risk further down-stream.

“Other design proposals include the creation of a native tree and wildflower meadow, a network of informal paths and car parking with electric vehicle charging points. We are keen now to see this progress to become a fantastic community park.”

PEPA Chairwoman Lorraine Craigie said: “We are delighted the project has received the backing of Councillors which is another part of the jigsaw slotted in place and an exciting step forward, bringing us closer to our ultimate goal, which is to see the area transformed into a fantastic community park for everyone no matter your age or ability.

“A huge amount of community engagement has already taken place and the key ingredients of this scheme have not changed. However, the next stage via the exhibition will be to iron out the finer details. We look forward to further feedback from the public.”

It is also hoped that the proposed development will contribute towards Orkney’s COVID-19 recovery, providing options for increased physical activity through active travel, access to high quality public green space and the associated mental health benefits.

All recommendations must still be ratified by Full Council on 5 May.

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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