The first two phases of Shaw Forest Country Park are nearing completion and 100 West Swindon residents took the chance to meet the team responsible for putting it together on 23 September.
Swindon Council landscape architect Chris Annis and colleagues from the Great Western Community Forest, as well as other departments, led tours of the park to see the work on the first two phases before completion next year.
Landscaping work and tree planting has been largely completed. From above a human form influenced by the Greek earth goddess Gaia can be seen shaped into the park. Higher than expected winds prevented aerial images of the whole park being beamed down from a tethered balloon but a camera set on a pole will provide elevated images to be published.
From the top of Gaia you can see the town centre to the east, the hills around Cheltenham to the north, and Lydiard Park and Purton to the west. It's possible to see the spires and towers of six churches in different communities around the town. A games area and a car park have been built; most recently footpaths have been created encircling the park.
Shaw & Nine Elms councillor Nick Martin commented, "in reality a little more work is due to level and clear the entrance, grass seed the hills and top dress the half a mile of new paths that have been constructed this summer. The car park is in good order, the grass on the event field is progressing well and the 50,000 trees are attracting deer and all forms of Wiltshire animal life.
"In 1994 I was one of the Thamesdown Councillors who voted to turn this landfill site into a forest park. Today I am delighted with the hills, fields and woodlands that are a remarkable achievement and proud that future residents will inherit such a valuable natural resource."
In Spring 2004 there was huge community objection to suggestions by elements within Swindon Council that the area could be used for a football stadium and sports facilities. Two thousand people blocked the entrance to the park on Mead Way to express their anger that the area promised as a country park ten years earlier might be developed commercially. The proposal was blocked at full council in July that year.
Pictured right, councillor Nick Martin Shaw & Nine Elms congratulates the officer team responsible for bringing phases 1 & 2 of Shaw Community Forest to completion. From left to right Councillor Nick Martin Shaw & Nine Elms, Chris Anniss Swindon Borough Council Landscape Architect, Robert Fisher Swindon Services, Martin Wyatt Swindon Borough Council Civil Engineers, Richard Fisher Waste Management Section Swindon Services.