Arundel ‘pocket park’ gets improvement grant

Martin Peach, Nick Herbert, Mary Peach and Lepps, Caroline Gilfrin and Tony Baker
Martin Peach, Nick Herbert, Mary Peach and Lepps, Caroline Gilfrin and Tony Baker

A ‘pocket park’ in Arundel was visited by the MP on Friday after the project was awarded a government grant to improve the green space for the local community.

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert met residents Martin and Mary Peach, Caroline Gilfrin and Sean Conway at the small Priory Road park.

They were joined by Tony Baker, community parks officer at Arun District Council.

Measures to promote ‘pocket parks’, helping to bring small green spaces that have fallen into disrepair back into use, were first revealed in 2016.

The Government invited bids for a new fund in December last year and last month ministers announced that more than 150 community-led groups will receive funding through the £3.75 million ‘Pocket Parks Plus’ programme.

Pocket parks are defined as a piece of land of up to 0.4 hectares, although many are around 0.02 hectares – the size of a tennis court.

The residents of Priory Road formed a small committee to submit a formal bid to the government’s Pocket Parks Plus Programme, and were awarded a grant of £6,500.

Mary Peach explained to the MP why it is important to create an accessible park for the nearby residents and outlined how they will use the grant. The group heard about the scheme through the local MAVES group (Mid Arun Valley Environmental Survey), and their bid received support from the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

The work, which begins this week, will include the creation of a new gravel footpath and landscaping and planting.

New countryside park furniture made by The Aldingbourne Trust will be added to provide seating.

It is expected the work will be completed in three weeks, after which Arun District Council will continue to maintain the park.

Mary Peach said: “It was good to meet Nick and I loved his enthusiasm for our little pocket park, especially his support for a play area for the children which is the next stage of our plans.”

Mr Herbert said: “It was rather wonderful to discover the park tucked behind Priory Road and I am grateful to Mary and her committee for inviting me to see it before the work begins.

“I think that the pocket parks programme is a really great idea, and I look forward to returning when the work has been completed.”

Parks and Green Spaces Minister Rishi Sunak MP said: “Parks and green spaces – no matter what size – are huge assets to our towns and cities and offer us all opportunities to relax, socialise, exercise and play.

“The Pocket Parks Plus Programme gives local leaders and their communities the means to better maintain, protect and enhance their treasured green spaces”.