Bank holiday picnic to chew over future of Swanage field

An open invitation to a May Day Picnic in the Park could have a tasty item on the menu – the future of an important community green space for Swanage.

Local residents in and around Herston in West Swanage are being invited to the former St Mark’s School playing fields on Monday 1st May 2023 for a day of ‘give it a go’ activities including yoga and zumba, and for a chance to have their say over what happens to the land.

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Shady trees could be a perfect spot for a picnic if the bank holiday sun shines

Former school field is protected from development

The field, which was once part of the old St Mark’s First School in Jubilee Road, is on a slope and has a dozen well established trees growing in one corner.

But as a former school playing field it is protected from development and could be a very valuable community green space for Herston – which is why the views of locals are so important.

Families are being invited to pack a picnic, bring a rug and join members of Sustainable Swanage, Swanage Town Council and Herston Village Hall Committee to talk about the future of the green space.

Swanage Town Council is looking for ways to enhance the area

Picnic is a perfect way to get locals involved

Sustainable Swanage project officer Sarah Spurling said:

“We would like people to come along and enjoy themselves, but it’s also an opportunity to listen to local families have their say on what could be done with the old playing fields.

“Swanage Town Council has an extended lease on the land and has previously asked the public whether it should be open to all, but I think we all agree that it would be nice to enhance it in some way.

“The council came up with the idea of a picnic in the park and I thought that would be a perfect thing as an open day to highlight a green space, make local people aware of it and start the conversation about its future.

“At the same time, we can highlight that green spaces are about health, wellbeing and a connection to nature.”

The old school playing field could become a vital outdoor space for Herston with far reaching views across Swanage

Events to include yoga, live music and zumba

Sarah added:

“We got some funding from Stepping Into Nature to cover the cost of some activities, which is really nice, so there will be yoga, willow weaving, zumba, live music and nature activities, and lots to do for children.

“Herston Village Hall, which also wants to become more of a community hub, will be open for people to pop in for tea and coffee and to have a chance to look at plans for the new hall and share memories of times spent at the hall in the past.

“We hope people come along with their picnics and chat to us about their ideas for the future, and we’ll see what happens from there!

“It’s not a massive space and it’s on a slope, but it is quirky, so we have to come up with ingenious ways of using it. It’s a beautiful green space and it has potential.”

The village hall is also looking to become even more of a community hub

New Herston village hall plans
Morgan Carey

An architect’s drawing of what the redeveloped village hall will look like

Herston Village Hall also asking for ideas

Initial ideas for parts of the park could include a play park or a community garden, but officials are open to any and all ideas to improve the green lung at the heart of Herston.

All are welcome to the free event and are being advised to arrive by active travel, as there is no car park and on street parking is limited. People are being invited to bring their own picnic food and a blanket.

Herston Village hall bunting

Picnic in the Park from 11 am until 3 pm

  • 11.30 am to midday – Children’s yoga session. Join JoYoga for a fun specially designed session for kids. Mats provided but bring your own if you have one
  • 1 pm to 1.30 pm – Yoga session for all. Join JoYoga for a relaxing outdoor yoga session. Mats provided but bring your own if you have one or a blanket
  • 2 pm to 2.30 pm – Join Lucy for a fun 30 minutes outdoor Zumba session

Herston Village Hall will also be open from 11 am to 3 pm and volunteers are hoping to collect ideas from locals about what kind of activities or clubs they would like to see hosted – or to help run! – there.

There will be a photo exhibition of old photographs from events at the hall in years past, and tea, coffee and homemade cake being served.

Further information

  • More information, including all event times, is on the Sustainable Swanage website
  • Follow the latest news from Herston Village Hall on its Facebook page
picnic in the park poster

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