‘Innovative’ plans for Chichester’s Priory Park praised

New ideas put forward by Chichester conservationists for Priory Park, which include a combined cricket pavilion and clubhouse, have been hailed by one group as ‘innovative’ and an ‘affordable way forward’.

The Friends of Priory Park welcomed revised plans for the area, which also include a community orchard, a community garden and the conversion of the existing cricket clubhouse into a cafe, incorporating public toilets.

Chairman of the group Richard Plowman said: “We welcome the plans. There are one or two modifications which have been quite good, there is some innovative thinking to it.”

He added: “I think overall it is a good way forward and it is an affordable way forward. I am hoping the revised plans will be accepted as the master plan and we can start to get all of the funding for it.”

The modified plans put forward by Chichester Conservation Area Advisory Committee (CCAAC), were launched at its annual meeting last night.

The recommendations in it have been submitted to Chichester District Council, which is currently considering the future of the historic park.

The Friends of Priory Park said the plans were something everyone could work to.

And Mr Plowman hailed the idea for a cafe at the historic park and the idea for a play area.

A CCAAC report said: “We suggest that the proposed cafe provides a new opportunity for siting the play equipment behind and beside it.

“Parents and carers would be able to sit on the cafe terrace while their children played within sight.”

The report also detailed plans to unite both functions of the existing cricket clubhouse and the small white pavilion beside the pitch, by putting them in a larger pitch-side building.

Mr Plowman said plans to move the pavilion were a ‘sensible thing’ and in terms of access it ‘makes sense’. He did add that the pathways at Priory Park needed a little improvement.

Earlier proposals the CCAAC recommended should now be dropped include a bandstand, the restoration of the old white cricket pavilion, and the creation of an ampitheatre on the Norman motte, where a castle once stood.

The committee has substantially reworked a park master plan originally produced for the district council by consultants in 2006.

Recommendations in the new CCAAC masterplan include:

- Conversion of the existing cricket clubhouse into a cafe, incorporating public toilets.

- Retention of the present small Bowls Club accommodation n A small wood shingled hut with later additions - as the entrance to a new building at the rear which would replace the extensions and update the accommodation to contemporary standards.

- New uses for redundant land by the cricket clubhouse.

- Unite the functions of the cricket clubhouse and the badly-deteriorated white pavilion beside the pitch in a new building. It was proposed this new building should be in the extreme south-east corner of the park, and could have first-floor access from the City Walls. Sadly, they doubted the existing white pavilion could realistically be saved. The Weald and Downland Museum had agreed to reconsider a previous refusal of this building. But it could be offered to the Prebendal School as a ‘handsome replacement’ for the temporary building presently on the Prebendal Field. It would enhance an iconic view of Chichester.

- The sub-committee said basic railings embedded within the existing hedge would be relatively economic and help security.