Stone Recreation Ground masterplanStone Parish Council has been successful in securing funds of £3.8m following a recent application to Dartford Borough Council to seek support for the scheme from Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds collected from housing development in the Stone area. The parish council had already committed funds of £650k towards the scheme and will contribute towards the overall sum further from future CIL receipts. This provides the parish council with the budget to deliver the planned improvements, with work at the site expecting to start in early 2024.

The parish council developed the recreation ground improvement scheme as part of the Stone Parish Neighbourhood Plan, following community consultation to establish the wishes of residents in improving the open space and creating a park fit for the future. The parish has seen increased demand on services from the recent growth in population and the council is mindful of further impact from the adjacent housing development at Knight’s Reach, acknowledging that 46% of dwellings will not have access to private outdoor space.

The scheme aims to support biodiversity, community cohesion, improve access and air quality, safety and security, and health and wellbeing.

Planned works include:

  • Improved landscaping throughout the park, providing 167 more trees, shrubs, meadow areas, and paths around the park ensuring better accessibility to all residents.
  • New recreational/leisure activities including a pump track, multi-use games area, youth shelter, performance stage, climbing logs, table tennis, outdoor gym and running track.
  • Construction of a new café to enable the relocation of the existing smaller Lizzies café.
  • Improved security throughout the park through provision of CCTV, lighting, improved boundaries, and access points to the park to help the council tackle any instances of anti-social behaviour.
  • Accessibility features such as a Changing Places toilet and sensory garden.
  • Improvements to the sports changing rooms.
  • Expansion of Stone Pavilion to enable additional community benefits.
  • Increased parking across the site.

The project also emphasizes sustainability, utilizing air source heat pumps and green energy production methods to offset energy consumption.

Tender documentation is currently being prepared, and a contractor will be appointed in early 2024. The timeline for the works, which will be phased to minimize disruption, will be confirmed later, with initial benefits expected by next summer.

Chair of the Council, Jessica McQueen said,
“This is wonderful news, which means this long-awaited scheme can now be delivered at a vital time for the parish community. After lots of consultation with local residents, we feel we have designed an exciting, diverse, and accessible scheme that should ensure our community is well served for leisure and recreation needs. The recent pandemic showed us very clearly how valuable outdoor recreation spaces are and we cannot wait to see the community enjoying the new facilities, hopefully by next summer. We would also encourage any local residents or community groups that have ideas for how we can make best use of the new features to contact us to discuss this further.”

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