Frequently Asked Questions
Who is ‘Include Us’?
Include Us is local registered charity committed to the belief that all people regardless of age and stage in life, or ability, should be able to access space in which to play and be together.
Our vision is to create a green community space with something for everyone, run by the community for the community.
Why do we need an inclusive park?
In short, we firmly believe every public space should be inclusive and accessible to all. There was already a play park at Catherine Street but it wasn’t wheelchair friendly and the play equipment was dated and in need of repair. With access next door to a Changing Places toilet at The Usual Place, Catherine street was the preferred choice (of families with disabled children) as an inclusive playpark in Dumfries.
Catherine Street Park has always been a green, play space and will remain so but with new paths, seating, community gardening space and all ability equipment so that it is accessible to more members of our community.
Who owns Catherine Street Park?
The park will remain a community resource and asset for future generations, managed by registered charity ‘Include Us’. During our 20 year lease we will act as custodians to ensure the wellbeing and health of such a wonderful pocket-park.
When will the new park open?
The build began in September and is expected to take approximately 8 weeks so will be ready in winter 2019.
What's happening to the trees?
“What’s happening to the trees” is something people have been asking about so here is what we can tell you.
Our colleagues in the Council commissioned an independent survey from an Arboriculturist in November 2017 who has told us that some of the trees especially around the periphery are not healthy and should be removed before work starts on the park. Sadly during Storm Ali in September a number of trees were damaged – some have had to be removed.
We know that trees which look healthy but are diseased on the inside are more vulnerable to damage in a storm. We want everyone who used the park to be safe so we need to heed advice about which trees will need to be removed.
It’s important to know that we are designing the park around the trees because they will continue to be the most beautiful standout feature of our ‘little pocket woodland park’.
We will not be removing trees to create pathways or play equipment. The trees bring welcome shade in the summer and provide
Children will be involved in planting more trees in the park so that they have a chance to learn about how important trees are to our ecology and well-being.
In the future, we want to make sure that the trees are well cared for and maintained so that we can all continue to enjoy this beautiful wee park for many years to come.
Will you be removing the remaining trees?
Catherine Street has several mature trees, predominantly but not exclusively, lime trees. These trees
give the park a lovely, woodland feel. Unfortunately, an independent arborist’s report identified that some of the trees were unsafe or unhealthy and such they had to be removed. This was not done intentionally to fit our plans for the park. In fact, our plans were made around the trees as we feel they are central to this wonderful site.
We are committed to replacing the trees that were previously removed with a varied range of native species trees and have no plans to remove the existing mature trees. Introducing new plants and trees will improve biodiversity making a richer environment for wildlife.
Regular maintenance of existing and new trees is part of our ongoing park management strategy. This includes tree care such as water sprout and sucker removal, pollarding, feeding and watering to ensure the trees are kept healthy for future generations to enjoy.
Will the park be locked?
Will there be a permanent building on the site?
No. A non-material variation application was submitted and approved to allow a temporary structure to be sited in the park. This requires no foundations, only a flat surface on which to erect the structure which meets the conditions relating to the title for the park. We refer to this structure as The Bothy and it comprises a small park office and outdoor storytelling area.
How will you improve access in the park?
“How will you improve access in the park” is something people have been asking so here is what we can tell you. Access into the park is one of the things lots of people have asked if we can change so that is one of the things we are working hard to get right.
- At the moment the gate into the park isn’t easy to manage, it’s a bit sticky and will need more than WD40 to fix. So, we are planning to install new gates which will be easier to manage and will be safe for children
- The concrete ramp into the park has too steep an incline for lots of children and adults and people complain about ending up in a muddy puddle at the bottom. So, we will create a gentle slope into the park which will lead onto a path rather than grass
- At the moment there are no pathways around the park and the surface is bumpy and uneven which is difficult for children and adults that have mobility problems. So, we have planned lovely brick pathways which are wide enough for parents pushing a buggy and a child to walk beside. The pathways will roughly circular skirting around the trees. There will also be linking pathways so that many more children and young people can get to the new play area
- Access from the park up into The Usual Place Community Café will also be created using the same kind of gentle slope that we will use at the Catherine Street entrance. At the moment children and parents ‘dreep’ over the wall so hopefully this will make things a bit safer for everyone
How will you improve seating in the park?
“How will you improve seating in the park” is a question we are being asked so this is what we are planning to do in response to what people asked for. At the moment in the park, there are two traditional picnic benches with tables attached. This type of seating isn’t suitable for everyone so we are planning on having a different assortment of lovely sociable seating areas.
This will be a mix of sturdy hardwood bench seats and accessible round picnic tables. We are also putting a wooden tree seat around one of our lovely lime trees. In our planting areas, we will have a raised bed or two which will have wide capping, comfy enough to sit on so that you can smell herbs, touch sensory plants and pick soft fruits.
We are having a small storytelling/outdoor classroom area which will be covered and will also have bench type seating with space for wee ones in buggies and children and adults who use a wheelchair.
We’ve talked at length about the merits of recycled plastic seating versus wood. There are pro’s and con’s to both but we’ve decided that because Catherine Street is a lovely woodland setting that we should go for hardwood. Some people are keen to purchase a bench so that they can have this as a memorial to a loved one which we think is a lovely idea.
We want people to spend more time in the park, having lunch, a play, enjoying the planting areas or just taking a walk through the trees. We hope that the seating we have planned will encourage more people to linger longer and enjoy the park.
Will there be flowers in the park?
The definite answer to this is YES!
Phase two of the park project will be to create a small Community Garden with planting areas and raised beds to grow soft fruit, herbs and vegetables.
We hope that children, young people and volunteers will help to plant these up, maintain them and enjoy eating what is grown. We will have bird, bee and butterfly friendly plants and hope to encourage a little microsystem which encourages wildlife into the park. C
hildren and young people already planted 1000 snowdrops in the green at the end of March – they are great early pollinators for insects so we can’t wait to see them coming up next year. Bird, bat boxes and bug hotels will also feature in the park!
How will you improve pathways in the park?
“How will you improve pathways in the park” is a really important question for us to answer. When we asked people, what changes they wanted to make in the park, getting around safely was a priority for many.
At the moment the park doesn’t have any pathways at all. It is a completely grassed area which gets muddy and slippy underfoot even in the summer. The surface is bumpy because of tree roots and old uneven rubber matting which makes navigating the park a hazard for anyone who is a bit wobbly on their feet.
So, we are planning on creating a safer way being in the park using pathways which skirt around and through the trees. Part of the pathway will link Catherine Street up into The Usual Place Café so it will make a great shortcut!
The surface of the main path will echo the blocks used at the front door of The Usual Place. This surfacing is permeable so that rainwater can get down into the soil. We’ve planned the pathways so that they will be wide enough to accommodate two people strolling side by side or parents with a double buggy.
There will be paving which links to picnic benches and sociable seating. Through the play area, there will be another linking pathway using a different surface to create more interest.
We are taking great care not to damage any of the trees in the process and it’s important to highlight that no trees are being removed to make way for paths.
Will you be using plastic play equipment?
No. We have paid attention to the natural woodland setting of the park to make sure equipment, colours used and designs are sympathetic and complimentary to the beautiful setting.
Much of the design is timber with natural materials used for surfacing whenever possible.
Are there bats in the park?
Before any plans were made, designs agreed or work began on the park we ensured that tree, bat and bird surveys were undertaken. This was part of our commitment to environmental sustainability. While bats are present in the park, they do not roost there. We have also ensured that no nesting birds would be disturbed as a result of the park rebuild. We believe that by improving biodiversity within the park we will encourage more bats, birds and insects to flourish in the park.
Can you do anything to improve parking?
“Can you do anything to improve parking?” This a concern for lots of people – especially those who need to be able to park close by. While we don’t have the space to make a car park specifically for the park we have taken on board the issues parents have discussed with us.
So here is what we are planning to do with the support of our colleagues in the Council. The Council are going to create extra disabled parking spaces at the entrance to the park on Catherine Street and at the entrance to The Usual Place on Academy Street.
The Council have taken note of the need for additional space for those who are using vehicles which have rear access. Better signage will be developed so that people can be directed to car parks nearby.
For example, the Academy School car park is directly opposite Catherine Street at the end of Lovers Walk and is free to use after 3.30pm, at weekends and school holidays
How will you improve play equipment in the park for children who use a wheelchair?
- a row of 4 swings which will incorporate a wheelchair swing, 2 flat swings and a toddler swing
- a ground level trampoline which everyone can bounce on – even if they use a wheelchair
- a roundabout which is flush to the ground that everyone can pile on