If you have been through the bottom of Central Park recently then you will have noticed quite a lot of construction activity going on.
Don't worry, we're not paving over paradise; it's all part of a new network of ponds and features to capture rainwater and turn this corner of the park into a home for wildlife as well as somewhere for people to enjoy the surroundings.
So what are you actually building?
As regular park users will know, the Barn Park corner of Central Park is often prone to flooding after sometimes only moderate rainfall. This project will expand the previous inaccessible pond and create two others to form a natural drainage system.
There will also be a swale – a shallow channel to capture water run-off – to allow nature to help reduce the localised flooding that occurs in this part of the park.
A number of new trees to help contribute to improved air quality and increase biodiversity as well as new vegetated walls planted with wildflower seed mixes will allow for a space for residents to enjoy the new ponds, with opportunities for education and engagement to learn about water and wildlife.
This video explains how it will work:
There are a number of other fenced off areas at that end of the park. What's going on?
Sadly, the creation of the new ponds isn't as simple as digging a few holes and filling them up with water.
The main fenced off area, between Jubilee Row (leading to the clock tower) and Coronation Avenue (leading to Home Park Stadium) is for the creation of the swale and a new pond. We know it all looks a bit drab at the moment but we promise that in time it will look even better than before.
The sports pitch on the other side of Coronation Avenue is also fenced off. This is so that a third new pond can be put in the corner and the landscape adapted accordingly to ensure that water flows away from the pitch and into the ponds.
Lastly, to minimise our environmental impact, none of the spoil from the project is leaving the site. Instead, it is being spread on Reservoir Field. Here we'll be creating a small natural amphitheatre and sowing an array of wildflower seeds.
That sounds great. What's the bad news?
Clearly with the park getting busier as the warmer weather arrives, we need to think more about safety on site. So that the work can be completed as soon as possible, we're going to be closing Coronation Avenue to pedestrians and cyclists from the bottom of Barn Park corner to the end of Argyle's Harper's Park training ground. This will be a full time closure except for when Argyle are at home or there is a big event in the stadium.
When and for how long?
From Tuesday 30 May and until the project is finished in late 2023.
What's the diversion?
The official diversion will be up Jubilee Row to the clock tower, past the Life Centre and Home Park and down into the car park. During the evenings and weekends you will also be able to cut through Pounds Park.
Only for us to say thanks for bearing with us. We know it doesn't look too pretty at the moment but the project is for the long term good of the park and nature and will soon flourish into the latest attraction in our wonderful park.