Town Centre's New Play Garden is officially open!

Local families celebrated the opening of our wonderful new play park at Westnye Gardens, just off the River Wey near the High Street on Saturday 30 March.

The garden was designed by Surrey-based RHS Gold Medal winners Davies White Ltd, with help from local residents.

Guildford Mayor, Councillor Mike Parsons stood on the new wobbly bridge with officers declaring the gardens officially open at 12.30pm. During the day over 800 adults and children visited. The Council's Parks and Leisure Team, Playrangers and Designer/Maker Nick Sneller of 'Wild Hart' who ran a Bird Box making session, ensured children thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon with activities, arts and crafts and marshmallow toasting. Refreshments and face painting activities were kindly provided by the Guildford Baptist Church.

The seeds of the garden's transformation were sown in the Council's Play Strategy (2016-2021) and were brought to life with help from a local residents' group led by parent Eve Richardson.

Mayor opening Westnye gardens
Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Mike Parsons explains: "We were keen to make sure this very special town centre garden appealed to everyone - residents, visitors and shoppers - so the idea of a 'play garden' - part playground, part garden was perfect and welcomed by local residents and families. The new picnic seating and planting creates a lovely atmosphere for everyone, improving the garden as a place to visit and enjoy a break or lunch."

He continues: "It's a wonderful space for families, both local and those visiting, to enjoy and serves as a good example of us listening and working closely with local residents to transform an under-used area into something attractive and beneficial for all. It was great to see so many of them on Saturday. Although the Gardens are equipped for young children, we hope that perhaps other members of the community, or those working in the town centre, will be interested in visiting it. Please use this superb space and encourage others to as well."

Swings at play garden
He adds: "With around 2,600 acres of parks, gardens, countryside and open spaces to discover, our borough has something for everyone. Nine of these green spaces have been awarded the prestigious Green Flag award, too. Guildford is a beautiful place to live and work and our dedicated horticultural celebration 'Guildford in Bloom' has opened for entries for 2019. See our website for further details."

Eve Richardson, one of the local parents who supported and played a key role in shaping the new play park, says: "When we moved to this part of Guildford, it was clear that it lacked play facilities for younger children and it is great the Council recognised that. The community group that worked with the Council on the project was keen to have a more natural play space which offered a lovely environment for everyone to enjoy, and we are thrilled with what has been created. There has been a real sense of anticipation in the local community recently and it's here at last - just in time for summer!"

Andree Davies, Design Director at Davies White Ltd, says, "We are delighted to have worked with Guildford Borough Council to develop the concept of the new play garden. Our mission is to encourage children and families to spend more time outdoors and get their nature fix. We hope the new play garden will do just that."

The bird boxes created by local children have been hung in the gardens to provide homes for visiting birds, including robins and blue tits.


Published on Tuesday 2 April.