2 Use of parks and open spaces in South Ashford

Who uses parks and open spaces, how often and for what

2.1      Victoria Park

Victoria Park is used by many people for all of the activities that would normally be expected in an urban park: walking, dog walking, children’s play, other forms of exercise and general relaxation. Some locations in the Park have become community hubs, where people meet, particularly some members of Ashford’s large Nepalese Community but also groups of young people.

The Park is used for regular activities by organisations including Parkrun and at least two fitness training organisations. The annual Create Music Festival, organised by ABC is held in the Park and occasionally fun fairs use the Park.

2.2      Watercress Fields

Watercress Fields is to an extent used as an extension to Victoria Park, and is considered by some to be part of the Park. The larger grass areas lend themselves to playing football including regular use by some informal groups. In the past marked pitches and fixed goal posts have been provided, which were used by organised groups. The youth group, Hang 10, which meets weekly, bases itself in Watercress Fields during summer months; this is aided by the provision of fixtures such as an outdoor table tennis table.

2.3      Transit Routes

The Stour Valley cycle/footpath runs along the River Great Stour from via Singleton Lake, located just outside of South Ashford, through Watercress Fields, Victoria Park and Bowens Field Wetlands to continue along the Green Corridor to Ashford Station and beyond. This is used by many as a route for commuting and leisure, both by cycle and on foot, from parts of South Ashford and beyond to the Station and other places in Ashford.

The route referred to as Jemmett Path runs to the East of Victoria Park. This is already a heavily used cycle/footway from South Ashford into the Town Centre and is planned to become more important as southern urban extensions to Ashford are created. A secondary connection to Jemmett Path runs from Hillbrow Road along the main avenue in Victoria Park, via the Hubert Fountain, connecting to Jemmett Path at the north-east access to the Park. This route, although not marked as a cycle route takes most of the cycle and foot traffic from Brookfield to the Town Centre.

Some users of these routes do break their journey in Victoria Park and Watercress Fields for relaxation or play.

2.4      Designated open spaces

The designated open spaces are used by those living for many of the same activities as Victoria Park and Watercress Fields. They benefit local residents in that there is less travel involved in using them thus making them suitable activities undertaken for shorter periods.

2.5      Non-designated open spaces

Being close to the homes, parents are able to supervise children playing in these areas from the home. Many are important substitutes for private garden space for families living in flats.

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