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Templars Doorstep Green

  A group of residents on the Templars Estate in Witham were successfully awarded Countryside Agency Doorstep Green Consultation funding. The group contracted RCCE to lead the consultation and to provide community development support for their project to improve the park on their estate.

The consultation was carried out in two stages. The first stage was information gathering to record and prioritise the aspirations of residents about the future use of the park, offering them an opportunity to redesign the open space from scratch. This was done principally by a questionnaire delivered to each house, supported by separate participatory consultations with young people, inside and outside school.

The results of the first stage of the consultation provided sufficient information for the landscape architect to draw up two design options for the park, which were then presented to the community for further comment at the second stage of consultation. A community fun day was organised at the park to bring the local people together socially, to recruit volunteers, and to encourage residents to register their views and opinions about styles of lighting, bins and seating. The fun day recorded a clear preference for Design Option One (119 people out of 134 attendees).

A project preparation plan was drawn up and grant funding from the Doorstep Greens Scheme was secured. This scheme only funded landscaping works. Further consultation to select specific play equipment was carried out in March 2004 and used to bid for additional grants. In total the project received £276,136 of grant funding. Work was completed in 2005.

Throughout the project RCCE provided community development support; assisting the group to operate as a registered charity and limited company (as a condition of their grant funding) and providing training and advice to volunteers.

Witham Public Park Project

  Braintree District Council (BDC) contracted the Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) to undertake a survey of 'perceptions' about Witham Public Park between July 2007 and January 2008. The Perceptions Survey is the first stage of consultation on the Witham Public Park Project - a project to deliver a programme of improvements to the historic 'designed landscape' in the heart of Witham.

The aims of the Perceptions Survey were as follows:
  • To engage a wide range of audiences (as outlined in the Heritage Lottery Fund guidance on Audience Development Plans) through a programme of interactive events and activities;
  • To enable local residents and stakeholders to contribute to the improvement of Witham Public Park;
  • To improve local residents and stakeholders understanding of the 'heritage value' of the park;
  • To complement the Witham Public Park User Survey, another survey in the first stage of consultation on the Project;
  • To assist with compiling a database of contacts to enable involvement in subsequent stages of consultation which could be used to develop audiences for future use of the park.

The findings of the Perceptions Survey will be explored in a series of topic based meetings and ultimately used to shape a programme of improvements to Witham Public Park.

A series of participatory events was designed to reach a variety of target audiences.

At advertised meetings and in schools, a workshop format was used to gather views and opinions and vote on priorities. At outreach sessions, a map of the park was displayed (together with an exhibition of photos if space allowed) and comments were recorded on coloured flags, coloured leaves, or on a flip chart. In all instances three basic questions were asked:

What is Good? What do you like about the Park?
What is Bad? What are the problems?
What about the Future? What improvements and new uses would you like to see?

A questionnaire was also distributed at outreach sessions as a means of recording priorities.

A total of 649 people took part in the Perceptions Survey (including 236 who completed questionnaires).