Public rallies to support ‘unique’ new play area

Pure Gym

The public response to plans for a new play area in Calverley Grounds has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’, according to one of those behind the idea.

Members of the public had the chance to hear about the proposals, for a ‘unique’ playground aimed at reflecting the history of the town, and catering for all residents and visitors, at a meeting at Christ Church.


Some 70 people heard landscape architect Jennette Emery-Wallis run through her design for the area, and gave their feedback on the plans.

Rhiannon Harfoot, who has been working on the project for three years, said afterwards: “We’re feeling extremely positive.

“We’re now working with the borough council to find out if there’s anything else we need to do to get final approval from them.

“We need to get a letter of intent from them, which says that subject to us raising the money, they’ll support it.”

Mrs Harfoot, 36, said that as part of achieving the approval, it is likely a public consultation will be held, to make sure those living near the proposed play area can have a say on the plans.

She added: “I think there were five councillors at the meeting and they’ve all pledged to support us, and are working with us and council officers towards the letter of intent.

“But we’re also moving forward in different ways. Jennette and her team are working on the next stage of the design process, with the concept plans we had and the feedback to see if tweaks need to be made, and looking more at cost.

“Following some great suggestions, we’re also looking at approaches we might take to fundraising.

“We’re feeling so positive, as the comments were so great. And for me, it was the balance of people that was so good. It wasn’t just our friends, or parents of children, it was a real cross-section of the community at the meeting, which was really encouraging.

“We’ve built up a real head of steam now, we’re thinking, what are the next steps, and how can we build the momentum?”


Clare MacAdie, chairman of the Friends of the Grove, said the plans looked ‘fantastic’.

She added: “I think it’ll be a wonderful addition to Calverley Grounds in particular, but also having another play area in general is very welcome.

“The equipment, looks amazing too, I want to play on it! The only disappointment is that I really want it to be started now.”

Father of one Alasdair Fraser said: “Hopefully, this will encourage a much more creative style of play than the playthings in the Grove, not just for the Village area but for everyone in Tunbridge Wells.

“It seems very well considered and it’s great they’ve got someone so prestigious to put their design behind it.

“Even if we moved away or I didn’t have my son, I still think this would be very beneficial to the town.”

Teacher Ellie Hayward wrote a letter to Kate Bourne, who has been working with her pupils on the play area project.

She wrote: “Since teaching at Claremont School, I have come to realise the value of community; working with children who have grown up in Tunbridge Wells, it is clear that, even at the age of five, children take great pride in where they come from.

“Hearing about the project you are working on has helped these children to connect with their community and consider what is important to them both socially and environmentally. It has enabled them to take a fresh look at their surroundings and to challenge dormant attitudes by asking: ‘How can we make our town better?'”

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