After a long community battle against developers, in 2015 the West Sussex County Council agreed to transfer part of the Central School playing field to the City Council as a green space for community use.

Following a general meeting in the November and the official opening in June 2016, the Friends of the Brewery Field have been busy preparing ideas for community use. The time has now come for us to harness the energies of our communities in the Westgate, Parklands and Orchard Street RAs to develop some projects. We are using established bodies and the local authorities to oversee a variety of activities which we can now start offering to residents as volunteer opportunities. We feel that if you can see what you could get involved with, and it is structured, you are more likely to join up. We hope this is so!

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Here is a list of opportunities for your consideration (in bold):

Over the Summer there were several complaints about litter and anti-social behaviour.

  1. Regarding litter: Orchard St and Westgate RAs have been busy coordinating a wider group of litter-picking volunteers. If you are one, many thanks. The City has made available half a dozen litter picking kits for volunteers to use and these are now distributed. The City has made two more bins available which have to be emptied every Friday and chained back up again. Would you like to help with this?
  2. Regarding anti-social behaviour: we have negotiated with the District Council for the Field to be put on their security walkaround eaWeh month to monitor the situation right up until next summer. Sue Long, committee member and our Community Warden, also drops by from time to time.

We went on the second of these security walkabouts and the litter problem is well under control although smokers are still gathering under the fir tree at the back of the gardens. Litter pickers report a much improved situation and the City has received few complaints since we put in the litter picking regime and the security walkaround.

  1. We suspect both litter and behaviour problems are seasonal however. To prepare for next Spring we might stand a better chance if the field is more occupied, furnished and smartened up with wild areas and benches sited to keep people away from the house fences on the north side. So I have set in train a series of projects with advice and assistance from established local agencies and the local authorities:
  2. The WSCC is helping us with an application to the Tesco Bag Fund to get funding for bird boxes, insect hotels, 2 or 3 interpretation boards and a community notice board on site. Parklands RA has offered use of its bank account for this since the Friends is not yet properly constituted.

Men’s Sheds in Southbourne are willing to do the construction as they see this as an opportunity to help set up a Chichester Men’s Shed. Would you like to help set up a Chichester Men’s Shed ? The project will require volunteers to organise research and design skills for the boards and their content. Can you offer research and/or design skills?

One board is intended to be on the wild life of the field and the other on its history. We have thought about a third which would be a picture of how the field would have looked with dray horses in and the brewery in the background – there may be a photo in the County Archives. I think 4 boards might be too much, so this last one might be one too many. I expect we will need CDC planning permission as well as the go-ahead from the City. Would you like to coordinate the project?

  1. We are delighted to be able to say that at a recent meeting the City has graciously offered 3 or 4 benches and a picnic table for installation on the Field. We will be talking to the City to talk about the siting of these benches before they go in. If not, we might be facing a cart before horse situation, for four reasons:
  2. The CDC officer who looks after the security walkaround has asked for them not to be put along the neighbours’ fences
  3. A proper distribution of what are perhaps nine separate items, 4 boards and 5 benches, needs drawing up so the site is not cluttered or things put in the wrong area. We already have two bins on there. Would you like to help draw up a proper distribution plan for items in the Field?
  4. We are working with Transition Chichester on the plan for a mowing regime that would leave some wild or meadow areas. Would you like to help us draw up a mowing design?
  5. Tesco are also keen to make available a bag of poppy seeds (in 14-18 commemoration) which would need to go into this area pretty soon. WSCC can provide tools and Tesco a couple of staff even. Would you like to be part of the planting team?
  6. The WSCC has offered to get on the field and cut back the trunk growths around the three limes by the goal post. This will tidy up the view of what items could go where and maybe influence siting decisions. A bench in this area would help pull people away from the fir tree on the boundary although this is the only rainproof shelter, which is why they use it.

We will be touching base with the City beforehand so we get agreement on a sensible set of propositions. Please send in your own response to these ideas too so that all our initiatives remain joined-up and we don’t miss evident opportunities on the way. Thank you.

Further projects for 2017 are under discussion:

  1. Wildlife events in collaboration with Sarah Hughes at the CDC.
  2. A hedgerow planting scheme along the east side suggested by Mark Beardmore at TC.
  3. A Field family open day in the summer complete with drey horses (that we’d like to bring through the City too) through Neil Cotton at WSCC.
  4. An out of season exhibition about the Field in the WSCC library during the Winter of 2017-18 to drum up interest for 2018 in collaboration with the Library.

Do any of these tickle your fancy?

So there you have it. Do write in with any offers, comments or suggestions to the Secretary of the Westgate RA (sec@westgatera.org.uk). Once we have a thriving set of people – whom our local Community Warden likes to call Capable Guardians, and among which you will be counted! – the Steering Committee can then proceed to establishing a simple legal framework for the Friends, some time end of 2017 we hope (another activity for the Winter months).

Thank your volunteering.


Colin Hicks

Webmaster, Westgate Residents' Association Chichester

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