The volunteers behind the planned new Stow Community Park are one step closer to starting work on the project thanks to a £25,000 grant from a wind farm developer.
That grant from Scottish energy company SSE is a welcome boost to the new park’s creation fund, which now sits at just over £50,000, halfway towards its estimated fundraising target.
Community park committee chairwoman Sharon-Anne Young said: “We are looking to get at least £90,000 in order to get moving forward with the park.
“Although we have achieved planning permission, we still need further funding to start it.
“It therefore is difficult to give a start date, but ideally we could like to start the build next spring, but that all really depends on us getting the funding.”
Having long expressed their frustration at the lack of facilities for older children in the park, the park committee was formed around 18 months ago to move forward with proposals for a new play area suitable for older children and teenagers.
The current playpark, next to the bowling green, only caters for toddlers, and since the idea to develop a bigger and better community space was suggested, villagers of all ages have been offering up their ideas.
Primary-age children have created models of what they would like to see included in the new development, and teenagers were given a chance to share their views with the committee while enjoying this year’s Stowed Out music festival.
“We are aiming for a park for all which will be a socialable place, and we are aiming to get the whole community involved,” Sharon-Anne added.
“We hope to install equipment for older children and even some outdoor gym equipment for adults in the community.
“We have had lots and lots of feedback from the community, and that is how we have progressed with the planning of what goes into the park.”
The existing public park in Stow was sold to the district council of Gala Water by Ian Innes in 1957. Its 5.6 acres is currently made up of a football pitch and general grass park.
The group was granted a lease from Scottish Borders Council for almost one acre of land in the south-east corner of the public park for £1 per year for the next 10 years.
It submitted plans to the council in the summer and was delighted to receive planning permission for the project last month.
The group has gathered prices for pathway work and a new bridge and gates to the area of the lease, and some work on the pathways began in October.
SSE, developer of the Toddleburn wind farm near Stow, has supported 328 different community and not-for-profit groups with shares of £3.1m benefit funding this year, including £162,982 for 38 Borders schemes.
SSE’s director of sustainability, Rachel McEwen, said: “Funding of this scale can energise, reinvigorate and transform communities, and at SSE, we feel we have a duty to create the conditions whereby communities can make the most of that opportunity.
“We think the best way to achieve this is for the grant decisions to be made by local people.”
Last year, the community park group was awarded £25,000 by Foundation Scotland through the EDF Longpark Community Fund as well as a further small grant from the Asda community tokens scheme.