Crucial cash bid for Swimbridge park project

Joseph Bulmer

Community campaign for council money to help kick start park project after waiting 40 years

THE people of Swimbridge are hoping their 40 year campaign for a village park might finally be at an end – if they can make a successful bid to win a pot of planning cash.

The community has had no public outdoor or recreational space for more than four decades but in March Swimbridge Parish Council will be able to lease a field near the village centre.

But it will need developing from scratch and Swimbridge is desperately bidding to win a �32,000 pot, procured for open space provision from the Roundswell Travelodge developers.

North Devon Council’s executive committee will make its recommendation for the destination of the money at its meeting on February 8.

The Swimbridge community and parish council, under chairman Ray Liverton – who has been there since the very beginning - have campaigned for years to gain some open space and they say the lack of it has proved harmful to the village.

Simeon Day, resident, landscape management expert and park project manager, said they felt the village had a very good case for a successful bid.

“Other areas applying for it already have recreation grounds but want more facilities,” he said.

“I am sure they are deserving but I think ours is far more so, as we have been waiting 40 years for this.

“Our school, one of the top primaries in the country, has no playing field and doesn’t meet minimum curriculum requirements due to lack of outdoor space.

“I have been here 10 years and seen generations of kids playing in the main road because they have nowhere to go and accidents have occurred as a result.”

Agricultural land at Glebe Field has now become available on the back of a new development of 14 houses currently underway by Pearce Construction, with the field provided as part of the planning approval.

But once the 999 year lease is signed in March, the sloping area of land will only appeal to cattle and sheep without extensive alteration.

“There’s a lot of work to do there before it can be made safe - it will have to be levelled, with drainage and fencing. It is hoped to have a children’s play area and equipment there too as well as open space, but all that requires cash,” said Simeon.

Swimbridge district Councillor David Luggar is supporting the village’s bid and said there was great community spirit. The parish council had submitted a letter to NDC applying for the funding, together with a “fantastic” bid document drawn up by Julie Whitton of Swimbridge Parklands Committee.

“There’s a great need in Swimbridge for this and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Mr Luggar.

“I don’t think sums like this will be available again any time soon and it’s important that Swimbridge has some help in getting things moving.”