The City Farm is working with Victoria Park Action Group to look at options to bring the former park keeper’s lodge in Victoria Park back into active use. Over the Easter period we put out a survey to find out what local people would like to see at the lodge.
The response was fantastic with over 500 people expressing a view. 99% of people supported the vision for the lodge “To make the Victoria Park Lodge into a thriving, multi-use building that enhances the green spaces of the park” – we’ve clearly hit a chord that is in tune with local people’s thinking.
Without doubt the most sought-after features to any development are to put in place a café and some good public toilets. The absence of Mrs Brown’s through the start of the year is sorely felt by many park visitors. 82% of people said good toilets are a must have and 78% saw a café in the same light. Providing seating, either outdoor or sheltered, were considered as ‘nice to have’ by around 70% of people. Comments showed a general understanding among most people that some commercial activity would be needed to make the building viable and to keep it alive in community use.
On the back of the survey, we have built a business plan and sketched out a floor plan for how the building might be used. It includes a café kiosk and public toilets downstairs alongside a community room (for projects or hourly rental) and a small welfare room that can be used by the park keeper or volunteer groups working in the park. Upstairs are two spaces that could be rented by community businesses as their base.
We are currently talking to Bristol City Council, who own the building, to see if the plan we have developed fits with their objectives for the site. Locality, the national organisation that supports community organisations, have launched a campaign around saving community assets. They have picked the building as a great example of how communities and local authorities can work together to make great community spaces. We hope by the end of the summer to have made some progress towards realising our vision of a thriving community space in the building.