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Park revamp plans start to take shape

Section:  Dumfries and West

A BID to transform a park in the centre of Dumfries into an inclusive play area is moving forward — with stage one set to cost about £70,000.

The group behind plans for the park at Catherine Street and Academy Street argue it can be put to better use, and opened up to be enjoyed by everyone.
Libby Welsh from the working group said: “We want this to be a park that is suitable for children from pre-school age right up into early adulthood because young adults with disability also make use of the park.”
The move has resulted from the £2.1 million invested in Dock Park.
Libby said: “Gradually the families that we work with, who are all families that have got a disabled son or daughter, realised that there was very little in the park for children with disability.”
And that frustration resulted in a meeting last January with Dumfries and Galloway Council focused on Catherine Street.
Libby said: “It’s an underused park, but more importantly it’s next to The Usual Place who have the only Changing Places toilet within 50 miles.”
Describing it as a ‘big project’, Libby says phase one would see access created from The Usual Place, replacing a wall with a wrought-iron fence and gate designed by families. A pathway would lead through the park to a new gate exiting onto Catherine Street.
Money was provided by The People’s Project in October, with an architect organising for a survey and drawings and the pricing of work – placed at about £70,000, and with an application submitted to The Holywood Trust.
Local firm Sleeping Giants would undertake stage two, in the form of a six-month consultation with families about their local parks and barriers to play.
And stage three would be the creation of the park, which Libby says has the potential to include play equipment, a performance space, an ice cream or coffee stall in the summer, a shelter for rainy days, and a soft fruits or herb garden.
Initial plans are to be presented to the public at sessions held in St John’s Church at the end of March.

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