From waste ground to Paul's Pad: Preston's amazing community refurb

From derelict wasteground to popular family picnic spot - Paul's Pad has united an entire community.

Friday, 14th September 2018, 2:33 pm
Updated Friday, 14th September 2018, 3:42 pm
The Friends of Fishwick and St Matthews group

The green space was developed as a community facility by a group of local volunteers, and now the whole area is reaping the benefits.

The community green space in Truro Place in the heart of the Fishwick and St Matthews wards was brought to the city in April by the Friends of Fishwick and St Matthews (FOFS) community group.

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The wasteground which was contaminated land, before the makeover

The Post attended the FOFS group’s monthly meeting on the green to speak about the changes.

Bob Woodfield has lived right next to Paul’s Pad in Bodmin Street for six and a half years with wife of more than 40 years Nina.

Bob, who used to live in Fulwood, said: “This summer we have had countless families having picnics late into the evenings, playing football and cricket together, and just having a lovely time.

“Before there was a lot of contaminated top soil from the buildings that used to be on the site. It was really dangerous and blighted the whole area. So the soil went and we put some new top soil down and then turf.

The Friends of Fishwick and St Matthews group at their monthly meeting

“Looking at it now it’s so nice to see what it’s become; it’s a really nice area. It’s so nice to have an open space like this.”

The area stood derelict for 15 years after a number of maisonettes on the site were demolished in 2003.

In 2005 the land transferred to the Community Gateway Association (CGA), an affordable housing organisation, before a ‘land swap’ was agreed with the city council to redevelop the site with the council offering the CGA alternative sites for new homes.

Peter Dilworth, a resident of Mosley Street, Fishwick, has been with the FOFS group since January and is a part of the team that turn up to Paul’s Pad every month to gather thoughts from residents.

Peter said: “We want to engage in more practical ways to help in maintaining the area; to encourage people to think of this as an area for everyone.

“Unfortunately the only people who have come today are children but they have some great views anyway.”

Preston Coun Jade Morgan, who represents St Matthews ward, said: “It’s brought morale up especially with budgets being cut; it’s hard to find places for people to enjoy places like this on their doorstep.

“Residents now want to protect the area and keep it in the state it is now.

“It’s no longer a strain on public services having to clean it up.”