Planning Submitted for Cromer’s new ‘playful connection’

A significant milestone has been reached in exciting plans to regenerate a cliff top park on the North Norfolk coast.

North Lodge Park in Cromer opened to the public in May 1929.  Originally built as a private residence, it was subsequently bought by the local Council, who converted the lodge into offices, and opened the lawned  gardens as a park.  A popular community amenity from the outset, shrubs, benches and additional land were donated by residents or purchased by the Council to enhance the facility, creating a main and upper park, a boating pond, and cafe.

Somewhat neglected over the years, new life was breathed into the main park with the formation of the Friends of North Lodge Park (FoNLP) in 2014.  This tireless group of volunteers, with considerable community support behind them, initially concentrated on reviving the tea rooms adjacent to the boating pond at the heart of the park, recreating an exciting and welcoming community hub – a 5*destination on Trip Advisor, no less!

Their vision for the whole area has now extended to improving the neglected and disconnected upper park; the key priorities being to create play facilities for children and an obvious link between the two areas of the park.

The solution?  A playful connection – an accessible bridge with play elements

Working with North Norfolk District Council, the Daniel Connal Partnership are supporting FoNLP with project management and surveying services for the innovative scheme, which has been designed by AREA Landscape Architects .

The proposed playbridge, a 60m ramped zig-zag walkway, will link the two areas in the park.  The bridge itself will incorporate play elements – seating nets and a climbing wall – as well as viewing platforms.  It will lead to further separate play facilities around the upper park.

The materials and appearance of the playbridge have been cleverly designed to harmonise with existing features of the town.  The timber boardwalk reflects Cromer’s wooden pier, the zig-zagging of the bridge echoes the paths down to the beach from the cliff tops along Cromer’s seafront and the thick rope handrails and use of buoys in the design acknowledge the town’s fishing heritage.

Validation of the planning application for the playbridge scheme this week by North Norfolk District Council is a significant and encouraging milestone in the implementation of the scheme.

Should planning permission be granted, the only delaying factor will be funding.  So far, some 60% of the required £190k has been raised, with plans in hand for further fundraising in the new year.

Samantha Annison, chair of the Friends of North Lodge Park, said, “We’re really pleased to see practical progress in our plans to bring the upper lawn into the Park.  This is an exciting project, in collaboration with NNDC, responding to the community wishes for the park”.

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