Agenda item

Tilgate Park Update

To receive an update on Tilgate Park.

 

The Commission is asked to note the update, and requests that the views expressed during the presentation and any actions are acknowledged and documented by the officers.

Minutes:

 

The Commission received an update from the Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, the Head of Community Services and the Neighbourhood Services Manager on Tilgate Park, its business plan, impact on the Covid19 pandemic together with how the park, nature centre and staff have been affected and adapted, together with improvements, changes moving forward, future working and priorities.

 

·        Tilgate Park introduced a 5 year business plan in 2015 where the park was encouraged to generate additional income.  This included a 50p incremental charging for the Nature Centre.  However from 2020, a decision was taken to introduce a step-change of £6/£5 charge respectively.  It was felt the below comparisons justified the increase, however it was important to protect the income and it was hoped in the future to become cost neutral for the entire service.

 

August

comparison

 

12 April – 31 August comparison

2018

26,382 visitors

£94,000

 

2018/19

£305,800

2019

23,747 visitors

£98,000

 

2019/20

£308,700

2021

23,187 visitors

£165,000

 

2020/21

£401,600 *

 

 

 

 

* opening April 2021 with limited max capacity, pre booking only

 

·        The majority of visitors were from outside Crawley and Nature Centre bookings had increased the use of MyCrawley by 45%.

·        Tilgate Park had now established itself as a regional attraction, fairly priced compared to other facilities.  It had received the Parkdean, BIAZA Gold and Silver awards together with the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame Travellers’ Choice, voted top 10% in the world.

·        The play area within the park had recently been renovated using reserves.

·        It was acknowledged that much of the work within the park took place surrounding its maintenance of the lake and horticultural within its gardens.  Many of the renovated plants would be saved to replant in other areas of the park.

·        The Remembrance Garden has been newly created to enable the scattering of a loved one’s ashes.  There is also the option to dedicate a bench, shrub or tree to someone who has passed.  Pet memorials will be introduced shortly.

·        Tilgate has since introduced events during the autumn/winter months to ensure the venue has events throughout the year.

·        The hound ground required further work but it was anticipated it will reopen in the future.

·        The Lakeside café had proven popular and developed following customer feedback.

·        Weddings now take place at the park, given the park’s unique location and surroundings.

·        The car park issues were currently being addressed.

·        It was acknowledged that further developments can be addressed sympathetically in the future to enhance the park to its full potential.

 

Members then raised a number of queries.  The issues raised and the key responses included:

·        Members expressed their congratulations at achieving international recognition.

·        Confirmation that in terms of assets, it was important to look at these as an opportunity basis and evaluate accordingly. The focus currently would be on generating revenue.

·        Recognition that car parking machines had posed issues during the year.  A new app was being introduced in addition to the machines.  Gainsborough playing fields had been used in the past for large events such as the Dragon Boat Race when it can be marshalled and stewarded.

·        Acknowledgement that the children’s playground renovation had been successful and there was a comment for further seating in and around the site.

·        Concerns raised around the lack of pollination and drought resistance planting.  It was confirmed that further sustainable, pollinated friendly planting that is drought resistant will be developed at the park

·        Recognition that event organisers were encouraged to use different event spaces, playing fields and parks across the town.   It was important to have a balance of events to ensure the understanding and sensitivity of residents were managed.  Tilgate Park is a large park and draws the crowds.

·        Recent events at Goffs Park had been successful and highlighted the use of other parks within the town.

·        Officers were thanked for a great deal of work throughout the council during a difficult time over the last 18 months.

 

RESOLVED

That the Chair thanked the officers for the presentation and for the informative discussions that had ensured.  The Commission noted the presentation, with the views expressed being acknowledged and documented by officers.