The hard landscaping is just about done, in time for the park’s first outing as a performance space at Fairfield Alive, but delays and warm weather have put paid to flowers – for now.
Before the upgrade, this park was seen as a missed opportunity and mostly used as a walk-through. The Fairfield Parish Plan questionnaire in 2015 highlighted the fact that many residents thought it should be enhanced, and showed that there was great enthusiasm for creating a space that could be used for events such as French or German markets. Many residents also requested more planting.
The new design aims to balance these requests and build on them, taking inspiration also from the area’s occasional use for hosting community events like Fairfield Alive and creating a space that is perfectly appointed for musical performances, movie nights or small markets while also being a nice spot to simply relax in the sun.
The new ‘market’ space on the corner closest to Tesco allows for food areas or market stalls to be positioned on an area of hardstanding, with new trees softening the look. Evergreen ornamental planting at the entrance points creates a sense of welcome, and the new raised platform is intended as a pleasant place to sit and survey the park and the community garden day to day, as well as being an ideal stage for use during community events.
Concerns have been raised (many of which are shared by the FPRA) about the quality of the work, and a snagging list has been drawn up. The contractors now have two weeks to amend faults such as the sunken pavers, the surface finish of the ‘hoggin’ area and additional mulching. There is also a year-long maintenance period during which they are obliged to replace dead or poorly plants, fix imperfections in the surfacing, and maintain shrubs and flowerbeds. Part of the contractor’s fee is retained until the maintenance period has expired.
Both the designers and Kings Landscaping were chosen for their previous excellent records, and the FPRA is working hard to get the project finished to a high standard, but this takes time. It is a great shame that delays to the work have meant the planned wildflower seeding could not be completed this year, but in time wildflowers and annuals (for which the beds have already been dug) will line and soften the paths, breaking the park up into a series of smaller areas which can provide privacy and visual interest for small groups gathering on a day to day basis, without restricting the space or obscuring sightlines on event days. The FPRA considered planting annuals this year for an instant hit of colour, but with the warm summer we are having, it was felt that the amount of watering needed for bedding plants to survive would not be ecologically sound.
MBS, Fairfield Park’s grounds maintenance contractor, has been undertaking a full programme of maintaining and repainting benches around the village, and those within the Urban Park are soon to be repainted.
The total cost of the project will settle at a little over £30,000, £15,000 of which has been met by FPC. This equates to a one-off contribution of £17.85 per dwelling on the park for a space that, once it has had a chance to weather in, will be enjoyed by residents for years to come, starting with Fairfield Alive on 14 July.
The FPRA can be contacted by emailing email@example.com.