Douglas Community Park is the site of a primary school which closed and subsequently burned down in 2008. The land survived as a grassy field with a clay-heavy soil that becomes boggy in wet conditions. Across Dundee, these sites have become more housing, something that residents of Douglas felt they did not need.
The Douglas Community Spaces Group was formed to take ownership of the land through the Community Asset Transfer process; and with Lottery funding and a close partnership with Dundee City Council, transformed the site into a public park with features decided by the community through consultation.
As a result, the park is built around a Sustainable Urban Drainage system (SUDs) that collects surface water run-off from the surrounding urban environment, and funnels it through the park into a natural soak-away between the park and the flood-prone Dighty Burn. This makes the park a pilot initiative, in conjunction with Scottish Water, to test the effectiveness of SUDs at preventing flooding in urban areas.
The park also includes accessible play equipment and picnic benches (with shelters!), a Christmas tree, and growing area managed by local volunteers with its own orchard, polytunnel and shelter.
The park has also played host to family fun days organised by the local Empowerment Team, and a summer festival, both of which involve local groups and individuals, like Dighty Connect and Big Noise children’s orchestra, providing activities and entertainment to the whole community.
Through our own links with local primary schools, Claypotts Castle and St. Pius, we have hosted seasonal treasure trails and scavenger hunts for the children of Douglas. And currently we are working on an ‘Earth Walk’ activity where a guided walk around the park will become a journey through time from the Big Bang to the present day, designed to be suitable for all ages.
Further developments and additions to the park in the works right now are a mutli-use gaming area providing a place dedicated to ball games, lighting that will keep the park accessible during the longer nights of the year, and over 100 saplings provided by The Woodland Trust to be planted by members of the community.
Supporting StatementThe Trustees of Douglas Community Spaces Group felt strongly about bringing a green space to the heart of their urban neighbourhood, and persevered for 8 years to get the park open, enduring the pressures of partnership working with contractors, City Development, Environment department and the local community through consultation, planning and development stages, staying active during the pandemic, and the loss of two dynamo Trustees, both of who are recognised with memorial benches in the park.
Perseverance remains a key attribute as our planning and development partners drift away to their next projects, leaving a group of residents with the beginning of a plan and little support to have our voices heard or keep the development going. Much like the community of Douglas, it will take the determination of those living in the neighbourhood to shine a spotlight on the good work generated by and in Douglas Community Park.
Because the work is not over: we have a bike library to establish, trees to plant, festivals to plan. We have built relationships with Dundee’s Green Health Partnership to establish walking and cycling routes in the area. We provide outdoor learning opportunities around nature, foraging and growing to our local pupils. And of course, we have plenty of opportunities to bring in local families for fun and relaxation throughout the year.
This is why we are asking the Scottish Civic Trust to recognise our park for what it is now: it is a community asset, it is a hub of green health and active transport, it is an innovative and sustainable solution to local flooding, it is a green heart in an urban neighbourhood.