Just over a week ago, on Saturday 29th September, I had the honour of officially opening the Bells Field Recreation Ground in Coleford. This outstanding project has been the brainchild of Coleford Town Council and with the sun shining, it was brilliant to see so many people attend the celebrations.
The Town Council, led by the Mayor, Cllr Nick Penny, have worked diligently to secure the funding for this £1.2million project and a large chunk of it came from Section 106 funding which is paid by housing developers. This is one of the benefits that new housing schemes can bring and, when done well, results in new homes for people here in the District and money becoming available for things like the Bells Field development.
I walked round the whole site after the opening ceremony had concluded and I was really impressed with what is on offer. It features a skate park, bike pump track, a multi-use games area, a wildlife garden, an amphitheatre, a World War One memorial, fitness exercise points and large green areas for picnics and recreational use. It is a great addition to the Coleford landscape and I hope it will be well used.
It has been a busy time in Coleford and last month residents voted in favour of the Forest of Dean District Council (FODDC) adopting the Coleford Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP). 81.7% of voters backed the NDP and it will now be used by the FODDC to help decide planning applications in the area.
I am a big supporter of NDPs because they give local communities a direct say in planning policy in their local area. The NDP in Coleford joins a growing number in the constituency including Lydney, Berry Hill, Highnam and Longhope. I know the Town Council in Newent have begun working on theirs and they told me all about it at the recent Newent Onion Fayre.
It is good to see communities all over the Forest of Dean taking ownership and getting involved in different initiatives. In Coleford, there was a real sense of pride in what had been achieved and I was pleased to play a small part in helping to get things up and running.