A scruffy piece of overgrown land has been transformed into a “green oasis” featuring a giant caterpillar made out of boulders as part of a £1.2 million environmental scheme.
According to housing association Cartrefi Conwy, the aim is to reconnect youngsters living on the Tre Cwm estate in Llandudno with the natural environment and give them somewhere where their imaginations can go into overdrive.
The estate is also benefitting from redesigned roads, setting out car parking spaces, footpaths and changing concrete areas into green spaces – all brightened up by a major programme of planting trees, shrubs and flowers.
The work comes on top of the £2.75 million already being spent by them to improve the estate’s houses, flats and maisonettes which were built in the 1970s.
The two projects brings the total invested by Cartrefi Conwy on its housing stock of 3,800 homes in Conwy to over £40 million with more than 300 jobs created as part of their ongoing housing improvement programme.
At the official opening of the new space, environment development officer Matt Stowe explained the environmental makeover was designed to turn sections of unused and neglected land on the estate into inviting pleasant green spaces.
The first area of the estate, backing onto Maes y Cwm Road, has been completed after six weeks of work.
He said: “This is a family estate and we want the opportunity for play to filter through the whole estate.
“This first completed green space is just one of what will be around six or seven green spaces all conducive to play we are building around the estate. The area was overgrown and unloved. We consulted with children and asked what they wanted.
“It was clear they wanted natural materials used so we collected huge boulders that lay around the estate and used them to form a giant caterpillar which children can play and climb on, chalk over and generally use for play.
“We have also designed a grass maze and when the grasses grow it will be suitable for very young children to play in and around.
“There are also play toadstools for balancing games and even the borders are formed using wooden posts that can be climbed on. In fact we have already seen children using them for climbing and balancing games.”
“The whole area has been designed to be low maintenance but high in play value.
Tenant Helen Allen said: “It’s fantastic and a huge improvement. This area was just waste land and unused. It’s now giving children space to play. And the giant boulder caterpillar is amazing.
Her grandson, Alfie, nine, is equally impressed and said: “The area is amazing and I like it a lot. I visit my grandmother a lot especially in the school holidays and it’s now a great place to play.”
Alfie’s mate, Nick Macuks, also nine, added: “It’s really good and what we needed. It’s a great place for kids to hang out and play. The caterpillar is amazing and there are no cars which is good.”
Fellow tenant Frances Streatfield said: “It’s incredible the difference to this area. It really will be well used and children already love it. It’s what was needed and it seems like someone cares about the estate now.”
“It’s nice to see Cartrefi Conwy doing this work and helping build the community. It means a lot to tenants.”
The Tre Cwm Green Space Project is being supported by Gwynt y Mor Wind Farm who pumped £65,000 into the scheme.
Gwynt y Mor grants manager Neil Pringle was delighted with how it has been transformed from what was waste land.
He said: “I saw the area before and what we see today is fantastic. It’s great seeing children playing and enjoying themselves. It has made a huge difference to the local area and I’m sure tenants and residents will be delighted.”
Katy Woodington, Senior Community Investment Manager, for Innogy which operates Gwynt y Mor Wind Farm, said: “It’s amazing to see this shared space and children enjoying play.
“It’s also nice to see parents and grandparents out and chatting too. This area now means they have somewhere to socialise.”
Howard Vaughan, managing director of Brenig Construction, the contractors who completed the work, was equally delighted with the outcome.
He said: “It’s been a pleasure to be involved in a project that has delivered this transformation to the housing estate.
“We have gone from an unused and overgrown piece of wasteland to something that is both fantastic and a space that can be used by the whole community. It’s great seeing children playing and using the area exactly how we intended.
“The area took six weeks to complete and is part of a much bigger scheme delivering environmental changes across the whole housing estate.”
Conwy Country Borough Council’s Tudno Ward Councillor Phillip Evans congratulated Cartrefi Conwy for the environmental work being undertaken on the estate.
He said: “It’s a wonderful improvement from what was an unloved and overgrown area. It’s clear a great deal of thought has gone into what has been done and the area is now a fabulous facility for the whole community.
“This green space in view of houses and not hidden away. Cartrefi Conwy continues to do a fabulous job and all those connected to this green space project should be congratulated.”
It was music to the ears of Cartrefi Conwy’s community regeneration manager, Owen Veldhuizen.
He said: “I believe this area will be of benefit to adults too. The raised beds are filled with evergreen and deciduous bushes and plants that will reinforce the seasons.
“It’s a real oasis of green within the estate and as it isn’t bordered by any roads it is really safe for children.”