A new garden and children’s play area costing around £200,000 will be built on a former cricket field in Billingshurst.
Planning permission for the area on the western side of Station Road, and south of the railway station, leisure centre, children’s centre and The Weald School, was given by Horsham District Council on Tuesday May 15.
The proposed garden will consist of decorative planting, raised paths, a stage area, grass mounds, a stream with bridges, play area, picnic garden, orchard, boules piste, shed, ornaments, seating and picnic tables.
The application was put forward by Friends of Station Road gardens (Billingshurst) Ltd - a group of volunteers who joined together after the first public consultation in 2008.
Keith Brown, chairman of the group, said they have organised several fund raising events for the project and he is now looking forward to helping create and maintain the new community space.
“Its design will provide areas for youth activities and play equipment for all age ranges,” he said, “as well as facilities for the disabled and disadvantaged in the form of a sensory garden area with wide paths and seating.
“The garden will also have a vegetable plot to encourage and demonstrate how ‘home grown’ produce can promote healthy living as well as a base for education.
“We now expect to be able to commence work on the project by mid to end of June. From commencement of work the garden site will be closed off to the public for eight weeks.”
Two letters had been received by the council objecting to the application on the grounds that the field is already used by families and ‘any development would be unnecessary and a waste of money’.
However, it was agreed during the planning meeting that the changes would enhance the area and provide a venue where the community can meet and would enrich the overall quality of life within the district.
The cricket pitch has now been relocated to Jubilee fields, west of the A29, so it is not considered by HDC that the plans will influence the provision of that facility.
Mr Brown said: “On behalf of The Friends of the Gardens I thank the parish, district and county councils and local businesses for their continued support.”
Full planning permission has been given subject to provision of full details of the design of the various aspects of the design.