Work on perimeter fence at Barony Park has started

Barriers being installed at a Nantwich park are set to prevent further unauthorised encampments.

It follows campaigns by local residents after several incidents at Barony Park over several years.

Cheshire East Council says the installation of wooden rails, as part of a bigger project for the park, may deter unauthorised vehicles, including illegal Traveller encampments, from directly accessing the playing fields - but that is not their main aim.

Councillor Mick Warren, cabinet member for communities, said: "So called ‘target hardening’ measures can only be viewed as a deterrent and are not entirely effective at prevention.

"Unauthorised encampments happen across the borough and indeed, in recent months, have included two parks in Macclesfield, which have ‘secure’ perimeters.

“Fencing off one or several locations only moves the problem of unauthorised encampments ‘down the road’ to other locations and offers no real solution. 

“We recognise that this is an important issue to residents and communities and we are seeking a long-term solution.

“The council is looking to bring forward a planning application for a Gypsy and Traveller transit site in the autumn – as this is undoubtedly the best solution and would strengthen the powers of the police to move on unauthorised encampments.”

The Friends of Barony Park campaign group have also been involved in the project to improve facilities, along with Everybody Sport and Recreation and the council’s environmental services company Ansa. 

But some concerns have been raised about the height of the fences, now that work has begun, including from Nantwich MP Kieran Mullan - who says some of the fencing on Sandford Road is twice the height it should be following previous discussions.

Cllr Warren added: “The council has been working on a green space masterplan, incorporating some suggestions put forward by Friends of Barony Park, for a range of enhancements to the park, to include large-scale tree planting, community planting areas, hedges, wildflower meadows an orchard and an outdoor ‘classroom’ for the study of biodiversity.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has, unfortunately, delayed the masterplanning and consultation but the fence was considered vital to progress wider improvements.

“The installation of some sections of fencing (varying in height from 60cm to 95cm) around the Barony is designed as part of a wider plan to enhance the site as a venue for recreation, enhance the landscape and biodiversity of the area and protect plantings from damage by careless footfall.

“The fence varies in height because some sections will need to protect hedge plantings, which will follow. The Sandford Road section is 95cm high. The rail elsewhere is 60cm.

“The plantings will need this additional protection from being trampled by careless footfall if they are to grow successfully. The fence is designed to have a minimal visual impact on the open nature of the playing field and we believe people will quickly get used to it."

Local Independent ward member Councillor Arthur Moran said: “This is a good news story for Nantwich. The work at Barony Park will improve the leisure and sporting facilities at this popular complex and residents’ suggestions for the boundary treatment to create a park run circuit have been incorporated – but there are also many additional features being introduced.

“The recently refurbished Barony Sports Complex is due to reopen for gym and group exercise classes on 1 August, and an outdoor gym is also planned. Together with the future improvements to Nantwich Swimming Pool, this represents a £2m investment in leisure and sporting facilities for the town.”

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