Allotments, Trees and Play Area Management
On a basic level, allotments offer the ability to grow fresh produce. However, the physical and mental wellbeing benefits of allotment provision are widely recognised.
As a base for healthy activity they can provide a sense of personal achievement, increased confidence, and social interaction. All while bringing people into closer contact with nature.
Nine sites provide over 600 plots across Preston. The Council manages eight while one (Frenchwood) is self-managed.
All have an association and/or site representative.
A concessionary rent rate is offered for the over 65's and those claiming unemployment/disability benefit to assist in those that are on a low income or are disabled.
Demand for allotments far exceeds supply with waiting lists at a continuous high level.
The significant waiting lists are, in part, due to allotment popularity but this problem is also due to the limited turnover of members/plots and a dated process of plot allocation.
Issues common across sites include anti-social behaviour, lack of car parking, poor drainage and the condition of pathways and boundaries.
To address these challenges and ensure a sustainable future for allotments the following will occur.
The Council will
- Continue to use market leading software, Colony, to ensure that plots are allocated fairly
- Consider the introduction of a 'trial period' system to help with plot turnover and to deal with those being left in a poor condition
- Reclaim plots currently not fit for cultivation with the aim of bringing them back into use
- Support development and implementation of a new tree strategy for Preston to help coordinate and address the issue of shade coverage and roots ingress into plots
- Work with allotment site associations/representatives to develop individual site action plans to clearly set out all the improvements required and identify funds for delivery
- Explore opportunities to work with charities, such as Let's Grow Preston, to support plot owners and encourage greater volunteering and upskilling
- Continue to split larger plots when they become available down to regular plot to help increase the number of plots.
Cleaning the air that we breathe, to providing habitats, and enhancing the places we relax are just some of the benefits trees and woodlands offer. They are also critical to tackling climate change and working to achieve future zero carbon emissions.
It is vital to protect and support the variety of trees and woodlands in the City. Although not directly covered in this Strategy, tree management is associated with parks and greenspaces.
The City's last Tree and Woodlands Strategy was published in 2003. Since then, the role, significance and importance of such provision has been heightened nationally. Conversely, resources to manage provision have been adversely affected by budget reductions.
Preston seeks to implement an up-to-date Tree and Woodlands Strategy to reflect changes in national policy, work practice and future requirements.
This will set out, but not be limited to
Existing status and challenges
- Climate change
- Biological threats
Vision and aims, with a view to
- Increasing tree numbers, ensuring there is a year-on-year net gain
- Diversifying tree stock
- Protecting existing trees for future generations
- Working with partners to identify where tree planting brings benefit to local communities.
Detail management approaches and practices, including
- Developing an asset register
- Monitoring stock levels
- Good landscape design principles
- Inspections and maintenance
- Management plans
Play Area Management
Outdoor children's play areas are vitally important places for children to play, exercise, developing their social, emotional and physical health as well as building their confidence, resilience and life skills.
Children's play areas are free to access, open to all and provide a setting where children can explore and challenge themselves.
Play is vital to healthy physical development, and has a key role in children's emotional, psychological and cognitive development.
Play is how children learn. Through play children learn to take risks, compete, cooperate and manage conflict.
Preston City Council manage, inspect and maintain all children play areas which are on land owned by Preston City Council.
The Council manages the service to meet its responsibility in relation to Health and Safety guidelines whilst providing a fun and enjoyable play environment for children to informally play and develop their fundamental skills.
Preston's Outdoor Play facilities consist of
- 48 Playgrounds (including 2 Adizones that have urban gym and sport facilities)
- 14 Multi Use Games Areas
- 1 Regional skatepark facility
- 1 Neighbourhood skatepark facility
- 1 National competition standard BMX Track.
The Council will maintain them to the best standard possible within available resources.
Qualified accredited play inspectors will routinely inspect equipment and repairs were required.
Whilst inspections are conducted, the sites are maintained. E.g. litter picked with any glass, litter and fouling removed and bins emptied etc. The service seeks to effect repairs to equipment for as long as practicable, however at some point equipment may become past economical repair from vandalism or age and may need to be removed.
The Parks Service will follow the action plan within the service's Play Strategy to improve a key number of play areas which require investment. In our development of these play areas we will work with partners and friends groups to secure external funding to improve play value and enjoyment of these sites for children and families.
Whilst the funding picture is challenging for children's play we will seek to deliver as much value as we can through good design and procurement. Through the design of play areas we will seek to develop inclusive play areas that afford inclusive play opportunities that children with disabilities will enjoy.
Play facilities have significant influence on the design of the Councils parks and open spaces and the masterplans being considered.