Today I am drawn once again to Buile Hill Park. Last week when I asked directions to the park from a security guard at Salford City College he joked that the park was not somewhere to visit after dark. But I love parks, even when Winter is in the air and the air is damp and grey, as it is today. On entering the park this is the none too welcoming sight that greets you.
Instead of branching left as I did last week, then I visited the new Start in the Park plots and the recently painted bowling hut where Start’s rhubarb crowns were stacked up ready for planting, I head right, skirt the old pitch-and-put course, now overgrown, and dip down to Weaste.
As I am walking through the park I find myself thinking about the consultation to develop a vision and regeneration framework commissioned by the now defunct Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company. This was back in 2005 when MediaCity was still just a twinkle in Peel’s eye. The Vision and Regeneration Framework included a paragraph on the regeneration of Salford’s parks:
“Proposals for the restoration of Buile Hill Park will provide a substantial improvement in the availability of high-quality open space and recreation options within Claremont and Weaste, and will contribute to the physical regeneration of the neighbourhood. Additional investments in programming and upgrading neighbourhood parks, to increase their use and safety, will reinforce neighbourhood renewal initiatives.” p38
One of the strong messages coming back from this consultation on the future development of the city was a desire for improvement to its green spaces and support for the framework’s vision of the greening of Salford. Time and again during consultation events people were reported as saying that they valued their green spaces but felt they were under resourced and poorly maintained.
The Consultation Report noted: “Numerous respondents referred to past times when the area had a much wider range of shops. Past memories of time spent as a family in Peel Park, Albert Park and Buile Hill Park (including seeing the city’s emblem in floral displays and listening to bands in the park) were also mentioned. The majority of people were enthusiastic to see the rivers, parks and green spaces rejuvenated and used to a greater extent, with more facilities for children and young people.”
So now we are six years on and much as I love it the park is shabby with neglect. Can anyone tell me what happened to these plans to improve Buile Hill Park?
“I think broadly that if the doors are open and there is a sense of ownership around it then I think there is a real opportunity for Salford to lift its eyes as it were and feel better about itself, obviously there has been a lot of work around that already. But if the gleaming spires are there with no obvious relevance to the people of Salford – they are rather too well used to these major projects being disconnected from them.”
CEO Community Development Organisation, Greater Manchester 2009
“The new buildings make a virtue of being more open to interaction with audiences. It’s all about demystifying the whole process of programme making. There are production areas on the ground floor where people will be able to see what’s going on. Television won’t just be something that’s made in mysterious darkened studios, hidden from public view. People will be able to take a look and feel a sense of ownership – that they belong to the BBC and the BBC belongs to them.”
Caroline Thomson, BBC Chief Operating Officer 2008
Images by Salford Journeys