Kirkcowan – What's Going On?

Steering Group Meeting 11/2/21

Kirkcowan Community Action Plan Steering Group

Draft minutes

Held online via Zoom.

Present – Charles McEwan & Joe Wright representing Kirkcowan Community Council, Wendy Baird representing the Church, Andrew Gladstone & Martin Marsh representing Kirkcowan Community Development Trust, Kirsty Andrews & Jemma McNeill representing the School, Caroline Wilson representing Kirkcowan Village Hall, David Inglis resident in Kirkcowan & Katrina Dick Community Development Officer for Kirkcowan.

Apologies – Christine Storm from the Autumn Club

KD opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and asking people to introduce themselves and state who they were representing before passing the word over to DI to lead the meeting.

DI talked about the reason for the meeting was to get some of the projects, especially the play park in Kirkcowan moving forward. KD stated that consultation had already been done in regards to the play park with the school, toddler group and wider community being consulted. The consultation was shown on the screen for all to see, and had been circulated around before the meeting.

CM stated that he was not keen on the curly slide as he did not think it made a big difference to having a normal slide and did not justify the cost. Also that a cycle track had been suggested to him by quite a few people in the village and that he was keen for some fitness equipment to be included in the park. He also suggested a type of zip line and giant draughts could be good to have. KD pointed out that the curly slide had been mentioned both by the school, the toddler group as a high priority as well as coming out high on the wider community consultation as an item of interest.

DI questioned if it might be easier to split the play park into segments instead to focus on things such as play area, picnic area, fitness area etc. and to get some structure into the park and keep things separate. AG stated that he thought it would be important to get a landscape architect involved to get an overall design for the whole park to make it attractive. He also mentioned that anyone wanting inspiration should visit the play park at Catherine Street opposite the Ewart Library in Dumfries. KA agreed with DI about having different areas and suggested looking to have different areas for different age/ability groups such as a toddler area, more challenging area, quiet area etc. She also stated that the young people had plenty of ideas they would be happy to share their views and ideas of what they would like in the play park.

JW said that although it had been decided previously not to have a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) in the park he still felt it was important that some sort of all-weather surface was sorted for the older young people in the village as this was something they were keen on getting. He also stated that it was important to ensure that older young people had something in the play park too. Also possibly having some football nets in storage which could be accessed easily. DI mentioned that there were some good examples of inclusive play park in the areas such as Stair Park in Stranraer. He is also mentioned about the possibility of having a ‘ball wall’ for young people to practice on and that MUGA’s are very expensive to maintain and upkeep and needs to be done very regularly, it was also worth considering how many people would use the MUGA. He also stated the importance of getting best use of the play park.

KD wondered whether it would be worth going ahead with the landscape architect in terms of guiding the group. She is also reminded about the importance of having to keep the adult exercise equipment at some distance away from the children’s play area due to health & safety regulations. CM was keen to get a landscape architect in as quick as possible. He also wondered whether the landscape architect could consider including the rest garden into this in terms of developing it in conjunction with the play park if the church would agree to this. AG stated that the Rest garden is a space for the community and that the church didn’t really make much use of this space so if better use of that area could be found then this would be a positive development. DI suggested that the school got involved in the design of the play area and also suggested that another aspect of creating a play park is that it would increase the amount of people coming into the village which could be positive for other business in the village.

KD suggested to look into whether it would be viable to do a pre-planning application for the field behind the school for an all-weather surface area, as although we have already been advised by the Councils planning department that having a MUGA there would be inadvisable, an all-weather surface ball area without the high fences and floodlights could be worth looking into, she also mentioned that although a local resident in Wellhouse Road had stated at a previous CC meeting that she would be against a MUGA in this area it would be worth going back and consulting with the residents in Wellhouse Road on their views of having an all-weather surface without tall fences/floodlights and whether it would be viable to ask the landscape architect to look at this as well as this would give even more space to use. CM state that the problem is that all weather surfaces cost a lot, and the school are wanting the top area for the school. He also stated that if the area would be flattened into a grass area then it could potentially satisfy the school. Also, there is already an all-weather pitch in Newton Stewart which is available for the residents in Kirkcowan already. DI reminded that the pitch in Newton Stewart is required to put aside £10k every year for maintenance for the pitch there. JW stated that there would be an issue with having a pitch in the school area as the light is not good.

KA stated that the school use the play park for PE (football, rugby, hockey etc.) and that it would not matter to the school where this open grass area was in the play park as long as there was a suitable place for them to be, she also noted that the school would not be using the play equipment every day for breaks due to staff availability. Her hope is to look at all the projects together which would hopefully include the playground in the school too and to avoid duplication and to ensure best use for all the village. She also underlined the importance of supporting and fostering the idea of having somewhere for young people to be active and sporty. She also talked about the possibility of having a tennis court type area which could be used for multiuse area. She also stated that the school currently plays in a netball league which should possibly be considered.

KA also mentioned that by levelling the play park there would be high possibility of flooding. CM pointed out there are good MUGA’s in the nearby area and suggested that there might be a possibility to organise some community transport for young people who want to use these MUGA’s to avoid any maintenance and costs of having a Kirkcowan MUGA. AG mentioned that any group could put in an application form to the Trust for funding and that he anticipated that the Trust would look at this favourably and reminded people that the Trust can only respond to requests that they get and it’s important to get people to get together and form groups for these sort of purposes.

DI talked about transport community and wondered whether it would be viable for there being community transport for people being able to access Youth work etc. in Newton Stewart and afield. KD suggested getting a landscape architect in to have a look collectively at the Rest Garden, Play park & playground and to move on a bit. JW said that although he thought the idea of taking children out of the village was good but underlined the importance was to keep things in the community for ease of use and to encourage more people to come to the village.

JM felt that there was probably scope within the playground/playground where a hard surface could be put down to accommodate football and netball etc. she underlined that this would not be full size but still usable. The children at the school had underlined that they really wanted a space in the school playground to play football and other sports and JM suggested that this could be used by others outwith school hours leaving the play park for the play equipment etc. DI mentioned that the play park is a protected open space and that there might be issues with being allowed to have a hard surface within this, KD to investigate this. KA stated that it would be fantastic if the school playground could be included in regard to the consultation with the landscape architect to avoid duplication and that anything built within the playground would be available outwith school hours. She also underlined that the school needs hard surfaces to enable them to use their space regardless of weather. The kids are also not necessarily looking for somewhere to keep fit but to have somewhere to play. JM mentioned that the Dickie wood was great as it is and underlined that combining all the desired areas together would be the best option.

CM wondered if it would be possible to extend the school area to give them more space. KA stated that the land around the school does not belong to the council and that there is a significant height drop present. JW suggested that a hard surfaced area could be created within the playground for young people wanting to use it outwith school hours. KA stated that this was something she would have to run by the council, although she stated that the councils general view in regard to school playground development is that they are positive to having playgrounds upgraded although are not in a position to pay for it. The council would also have to approve any work before it commences. KA also stated that they had had a company in last year to price for the development of a MUGA only to be told that their school playground would not be big enough to support this. It was also important to note that the Community Council need access to part of the playground for the generator which is stored there as part of their resilience plan. MM would like to focus on the play park for now and to get play equipment contractors in to help develop something more straightforward in the play park which would be done to a more appropriate timescale. KD stated that she hoped having a landscape architect would help to move this process forward too.

DI reminded everyone that as the school was on council land there might be an issue with getting permission to spend community benefit funding on this and that the Trust should look into this before continuing. DI suggested to put the MUGA aside for now to focus more on the play park. KA stated that the council were more than happy for any work to go ahead (pending council approval of specific works) and that she had this in writing. KD suggested that it could be possible to get the ball rolling with play equipment providers at this stage to work in conjunction with the landscape architect. DI stated that initially the group would need to do with the park first before getting a landscape architect involved. KD reminded everyone that we are in a position where consultation with the community has already been undertaken and that the next step after the landscape architect would be to get three different ideas rom play park providers for the community to vote on and that the idea of the steering group is to be able to consult and agree on the way forward to ensure no group feel left out. CM stated that it could be good to have both play equipment providers and the landscape architect involved. DI stated that this could take longer time and that the steering group should be able to get a vision together first. KD stated that from what she had heard today and from the consultation already done she was confident that a vision could be created and that it would make sense to do consultation on all the area with a vision to carry out the work in stages with the play park being the priority project, she also stated that she would like to know whether the rest of the group were happy for her to go ahead and consult with the landscape architect. DI asked if anyone would have any objections to this proposal. There were no objections and KD was to go ahead and contact landscape architects. KD also stated that the Trust have a policy of getting three different quotes for costlier work. MM wondered if it would be possible to put a provision timeline on this. DI stated that it would most likely take most of this year to get the work done. KD stated that she would be happy to look into putting a timeline to the project.

DI then went on to talk a bit about MUGA’s and that he felt that having a MUGA should not be discounted as it was important to try and get people to come into the village. He also mentioned that Balgreen park was currently sitting derelict which has great potential and that one of the things which is very lacking in Wigtownshire is a squash court. JW stated that there is also a good space of ground of the entry to the Dickie woods (teapot lane) which he was consulting with the planning department in the council. He also stated that he did not think parents would be keen for their children to head down to Balgreen park due to the access roads closeness to the river. AG mentioned about the cost for a MUGA but also that if it would bring people to the village then it might be worth considering. He also stated that the play park should be focused on in the first-hand. CM wondered if the Village Hall Committee were considering putting in showers once the Village hall gets renovated. JM stated that if there was a playing area for ball games in the local village vicinity then a proper MUGA could be considered at Balgreen park so that there was a safe place for children to play ball games but also a place where more serious sport could be done with the option to rent out the MUGA facility.

The next meeting was set to the 11th of March at 7:30.

Everyone was thanked for their attendance and the meeting ended at 9pm.

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