Now one of the most attractive play areas in the city, with plenty of space around it for picnicking or relaxing as well as informal games, local residents take great pride in Fairfield Green, with people coming to enjoy it not just from the neighbourhood but from across the city (see our Report to the National Lottery Community Fund).
Saving the site
There has been a childrenís play area on part of the Fairfield Green site for nearly 100 years, but in 1996 a local developer bought some derelict garages next to the Green, and applied to the site owners, the City Council, to buy a small part of the play area as well, in order to build new housing. At first the Council supported his proposal. Local people, however, were very unhappy at the prospect of losing the amenity and the Fairfield Association was formed. We offered a new solution: to raise the money ourselves to buy the garages and the land they stood on, have them demolished and use the site to extend the Green.
During 1996-97 we raised around £45,000 for this project, in which we:
- bought the garages, had them demolished and removed their concrete base
- landscaped the garage area and integrated it into Fairfield Green
- installed a hedge, with a protecting fence along the bottom of the Green
- installed a wood-bark safety surface under the play equipment
- planted trees and low-growing shrubs to improve the appearance of the play area
- provided four benches for people to sit on.
The City Council, who after initial opposition became very supportive of our efforts, provided around £15,000 of the total funding and constructed a new tarmac path (costing some £9,000 and replacing a muddy and awkward footpath along the side of the Green), which means that more people have access to the area, particularly those who have difficulty in walking or are partially sighted.
Improving the site
When it became clear that very little funding would be available from the Council to improve the dated play equipment, in 2001 we decided to seek funding of our own, and launched a new project to upgrade the equipment, with special emphasis on extending the range to cater for older children. We were delighted to secure both a Lottery Community Fund bid for £81,000, plus a bid for a further £10,000 from the City Councilís Single Regeneration Budget (SRB). These bids were accepted in November 2003, and the work to upgrade the play area was carried out during 2004. The Association would also like to thank CfBT (the parent company of Westbourne House Nursery) for their financial support in achieving this objective.
The Green is now a landscaped space with a large and well-equipped children's play area, a footpath/cycle path (part of the cityís signposted cycling network) along one side, and a green area large enough for all sorts of activities including the Fairfield Fun Day. Fairfield Green lies between the southernmost houses of Fairfield and the green spaces of the Fairfield Allotments and the Lancaster Girls' Grammar School's Playing Fields.
Who looks after the Green?
The Fairfield Association lease the play area from the City Council and maintain the play equipment using volunteers to do the repairs whenever possible and raising funds for larger repairs such as the replacement of large areas of the safety surface in 2012 thanks to a grant from the Local Initiative Fund and special funding as a QEII Field in Trust (see below). It also takes responsibility for making sure the Green is clean, tidy and safe.
In 2012 The Fairfield Association, with the backing of the local community, asked the City Council to propose Fairfield Green as a
QEII play area and the application was successful. This means that the area will remain green and recreational in perpetuity.