I’ve lived here 11 years. Last week I met my neighbours.
I’d never been to Packsaddle until I came to view a property. Why would I? It’s the sort of place you only go if you’re visiting someone or learning to drive. Once over the bump after Leys Lane, you’ll find around 200 houses and bungalows, some back onto fields leading to Orchardleigh; from my living room window I can see Whatcombe, Jacks Lane and the fields beyond.
It’s a lovely, bright, spacious place to live. I’ve lived here 11 years. Last week I met my neighbours. So, yes, it’s very pleasant. But there’s not much here.
The Packsaddle Play Area on Pedlars Grove is in one of the nicest positions in Frome with fabulous views. You can’t sit and admire them though, there’s no seat, and two swings and rocking horses don’t keep the kids entertained for long. Oh – I mustn’t forget the play area the other end of Pedlars Grove – with the basketball hoop….and a ‘No Ball Games’ sign…
I’ve always loved the idea of living where people look out for their neighbours, pass the time of day and form friendships. Perhaps not quite ‘Truman Show’, Wisteria Lane without the scandal? I’m no psychologist, and I’m not about to start quoting McMillan and Chavis because I’ve just read a Wikipedia article, but research shows positive benefits in having a ‘Sense of Community’ and I believe having a communal area with facilities for residents of all ages would enhance this. Sometimes it really is who, not what, you know that’ll lead you on the right path.
I had a call from Veryan Conn inviting me to a meeting of FROGS (Frome Recreation and Open Ground Supporters). I went along as a tadpole and heard what they were doing at Welshmill. It was great to meet a group of people who had a vision and were making it happen. This is where I met Phil Birch from WPA and my involvement here began.
Now, this did cause me slight confusion as I have healthcare through a company of the same name, but it soon became clear none of this lot were going to reimburse me for my contact lenses, and I am now very grateful for the help guiding me through doing something for Packsaddle. The first stage was to find out if the people of Packsaddle actually wanted change and if so, what it was. With WPA a consultation was held one wet Saturday afternoon at the Play Area with around 60 people, adults and children, coming to have their say. Lots of interesting ideas came from this, embracing the WPA philosophy of ‘encouraging play for ages 0-99 and beyond’.
Suggestions were: seating and picnic tables, a boules pitch, play equipment (obstacle course, climbing apparatus, slide, see-saw, Trim Trail, baby swings, roundabout, trampoline, zip wire, hopscotch, trampoline), rocks / logs, football goal, cycle path, outdoor gym equipment, WPA play sessions, play / tree house, shelter, sand pit, ball game wall, preserve the view.
I have passed these onto Councillor Adam Boyden who will be discussing the areas at a Mendip Council meeting this week. Encouraged by this event, plans were put in place for the community Jubilee party held last week. Using the opportunity to have a further consultation, Phil did a fantastic job gathering more opinions – watch this space. …and it was here I finally met my neighbours…