Plan for £77k BMX track and playground near to take off

The Oxford Times: Playground supporters parish council chairwoman Anne Mogridge, left, parish clerk Pauline Jones and councillor David Henwood Playground supporters parish council chairwoman Anne Mogridge, left, parish clerk Pauline Jones and councillor David Henwood

IT is a huge stretch of land that was a Second World War airfield.

Now Herschel Crescent Recreation Ground is a step closer to hosting an impressive £77,000 recreation facility thanks to Littlemore Parish Council securing a £60,000 grant from WREN.

Proposals include a BMX track and new playground equipment.

Work on the ground could start as early as March as the project has to be completed within 12 months.

Littlemore Parish Council chairman Anne Mogridge said: “It is early days at the moment, but it is really great news. This is a truly exciting development, one that will benefit many user groups in the area.”

The parish council consulted with residents to find out what facilities they wanted to see before submitting the bid for funding.

Residents backed ideas for an agility trail, basketball hoop, zip wire and picnic benches.

The existing play area was last refurbished more than 10 years ago.

Parish councillor David Henwood said: “We are really excited because we didn’t expect it. It is an area that Cowley and Blackbird Leys residents would benefit from as well. I think we have met the needs of a number of causes.

“We are going to move ahead and try and get help from the council to tender the work out and then we will review the proposals and costs. The idea is to get as many age ranges involved. The BMX park is something this area doesn’t have.”

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The recreation ground is known to some as Orchard rec because it was once an orchard. During the war Spitfires and other aircraft were repaired and re-dispatched there, using the recreation ground as an airfield.

Pre-war maps show allotments and an orchard on the site, and after the war parish records indicate that on December 2, 1947 there was a proposal to plough up the ‘Morris Motors flying field’ for cereal production.

But on December 7 an emergency meeting was held when the council confirmed the decision to lease six acres of airfield for five years, and the recreation ground was born.

Mr Henwood said: “In the future we would like to commemorate the use of the rec as an airfield during the war.”

In addition to the £60,000 WREN grant, Littlemore Parish Council has also secured £5,000 from councillors Gill Sanders and John Tanner from the Big Society Grant, £10,000 from the Littlemore Parish Council and £2,000 Cardinal House section 106 money, which is cash given to an area by developers.

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