Last Saturday saw twenty-one trees planted in Collett Park as part of the start of our celebrations to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Trees were planted by people from the seven age groups of each decade from her 70-year reign. Located at the east end of the park, they were chosen to provide a new copse in years to come. It brings me on to talk about the rest of Collett Park.

I’ve talked many times about how this Council instigated a 4 year plan (our ‘Town Plan’) three years ago to guide our thinking and investment decisions. We have been diligently working through the plan but perhaps the biggest ‘undone’ is the ‘development’ of Collett Park. I intentionally put the word ‘development’ in inverted commas since it can mean many things to many people; but let me be explicitly clear; it does not mean building on our beautiful park without due consideration of it’s natural beauty. It does not mean putting in facilities without thought of where things should and need to be. It means considering how to develop a much loved park (the only Green Flag awarded park in the Mendips) to ensure ecological biodiversity is protected and enhanced, trees are planted and nurtured carefully and new facilities are built that enhance the wellbeing of residents. As someone once put it, a park without a plan soon becomes a field.

To that end, the Council has instigated a working group to review a ‘masterplan’ for the park that was commissioned some years ago. The plan is still extremely relevant so forms the basis of our plans going forward. The next steps will be to decide exactly what goes where and when (and how much!) and then we can start to fundraise. We have already identified the park as one area we would like to use central government allocated ‘levelling-up’ funds on which we will be applying for later in the year. And also to make clear, we will be undertaking extensive public consultation throughout the process to ensure everyone has the opportunity to contribute to what the park will look like in the future. And yes, new play equipment is very firmly at the top of the agenda! Last May we allocated funds to ensure we have a fast start to that particular part of the project; I’m confident that we will now start to make good progress on enhancing Collett Park for us and future generations.

Until next time,

Matt Harrison, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council