Grangemouth park on course to become the town’s beating heart for years to come

Zetland Park's famous paddling pool looks a bit barren now but plans are underway to turn it into an attractive natural pond feature for visitors and wildlife to enjoy
Zetland Park's famous paddling pool looks a bit barren now but plans are underway to turn it into an attractive natural pond feature for visitors and wildlife to enjoy

Grangemouth residents, businesses and organisations really love their historic public park.

They have showed it by putting their hands in their pockets and forking out their hard earned cash or volunteering their valuable time to make sure Zetland Park can be enjoyed by everyone in the future.

This kind of response from the community is vital if the park is to secure the £900,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund it needs to begin its regeneration next year.

Jessica Paterson, chairperson of the Zetland Park Regeneration Project steering group, said: “Volunteering is really important to the project and we are starting to see people come in and ask how they can help.”

The park’s updated regeneration masterplan, which goes before Falkirk Council’s executive committee on Tuesday, April 16, had 681 responses when it went out to public consultation.

“To get that level of response has been absolutely fantastic,” said project manager Allana Hughes. “This is a strong project which sits right at the heart of community – there are lots of opportunities for different people within the community to get involved.

“You’re not going to please all the people all the time, but we have taken the general themes of what people were concerned about and have been able to address these.”

Back in December 2017 the plan to regenerate Grangemouth’s historic Zetland Park received a £127,300 boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund – as it was known then – and over £60,000 raised by various groups and individuals.

There are plans for a permanent stage in the park that can be used all year round – not just for Grangemouth Children’s Day – as a seating area, outdoor classroom or performance space.

The park’s current stage is provided by Falkirk Council every year to enable the town’s annual Children’s Day to go ahead, but financial pressures mean this may not be possible in the future, so a permanent stage would be a welcome addition.

Steven Mathew, president of Grangemouth Children’s Day committee, said: “The permanent stage is vital for the future of the Children’s Day.”

The new masterplan will not see the park’s fountain fully restored to working order or filled with water due to the fact it would mean removing original parts of the historical fountain’s structure.

It will be illuminated, however, like the war memorial is going to be.

While the memorial itself was refurbished relatively recently, the area surrounding it is in poor condition so it is proposed to upgrade this and allow disabled people better access to the memorial.

“As for the former paddling pool,” said Allana. “We’re really keen to bring water back into the park and will develop the attraction by naturalising the pool to attract wildlife in a way similar to what Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre has done.”

The consultation of the new play park involved 1000 local youngsters, with many of them coming up with their own ideas and designs for the park.

Play As One Scotland have also been involved, giving advice on how the play park can be all inclusive with access for everyone, with the introduction of wheelchair swings and roundabouts.

Allana said: “We are going to launch another crowdfunding drive focused on the new play park and would love to raise another £20,000. The current play area within Zetland Park is well used but coming to the end of its life.

“We want to develop the play park and make it an area for all young people aged two to 16, for able bodied youngsters and those with disabilities. We want to see everyone being able to play side by side.”

While Zetland Park Regeneration Project works towards getting the funding it needs to transform the historic open space, people from a wide variety of groups will be using the park to host a myriad of events and initiatives during 2019.

Like Bonnybridge’s Bonnyview Park, Zetland Park will soon be choosing its very own Dog Ambassador who will be the shining example for all dogs and dog owners to follow when it comes to responsible dog ownership and behaviour.

Entries have been coming thick and fast and the task now becomes picking just one of the four-legged friends to be the furry face of the future for the park.

At the end of March there will be a Orchard Maintenance Group workshop designed to give people the skills they need to look after the park’s orchard.

The start of April brings a Come And Give It A Go cycle safety event aimed at youngsters aged five to 10, while the end of the month sees a Spectacular Spring event to follow on from the Awesome Autumn gathering.

The park will also host another archaeological dig – with Falkirk archaeologist Geoff Bailey – at the end of April. The first dig, which took place in 2016, was a great success.

There are also plans to record the transformation of Zetland Park, with Bowhouse Primary School and Grangemouth High School pupils taking photographs for three exhibitions which will document the park landscape before, during and after the regeneration.

Visit www.facebook.com and search Zetland Park Regeneration Project for more.