Canterbury City Council proposes skate park, sculpture garden and pontoon at Tannery Field

A sculpture garden, water pontoon and skate park could be built at a Canterbury beauty spot as part of a multi-million pound project to transform areas of the city.

Designers at the city council are proposing to significantly develop Tannery Field – alongside other key sites – with hopes pinned on winning government funding for the project.

Extra statues could join the bull at Tannery Field
Extra statues could join the bull at Tannery Field

The authority has identified the meadows as one of the main locations to undergo a major upgrade.

Other key schemes include turning the city wall into a green haven of wildflowers, transforming Canterbury’s crumbling castle into an amphitheatre, and renovating the Dane John Gardens.

The Guildhall council chamber could also be converted into a “world class” welcome centre, while the council envisages creating a public square near the Westgate Towers and transforming the under-used top deck of the Castle Street multi-storey car park into a museum.

It is preparing to lodge a £20 million bid for ‘Levelling Up’ funding to help finance the bold projects and held a consultation for residents to share their thoughts on the proposals.

Should its vision to develop various areas become a reality, Tannery Field is planned to benefit from increased sports provision and a new bike park.

A number of features are proposed for the beauty spot
A number of features are proposed for the beauty spot

The council is also proposing to install features ‘to tell the story of the Tannery’, as well as create a pontoon on the Stour.

New sculptures to accompany the existing metal bull statue, and a new skate park are also envisaged as part of the field’s makeover.

Away from Tannery Field, council bosses are planning to create ‘story gardens’ dotted around the city.

In partnership with the Canterbury Commemoration Society, green spaces would be enhanced and developed with specific themes.

For example, a Blitz Garden, Rupert Garden – in memory of the bear’s creator, Mary Tourtel – and Chaucer Garden are among the names under consideration.

A garden somewhere in the city could be named in memory of the creator of Rupert Bear, Mary Tourtel
A garden somewhere in the city could be named in memory of the creator of Rupert Bear, Mary Tourtel

Statues of key figures, such as Aphra Behn, relating to specific stories are proposed to take pride of place in the various gardens.

Council leader Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding says the city-wide scheme – called Canterbury’s Tales of England – will be of “truly global appeal” and believes the work will result in shared prosperity for everyone.

Tannery Field is passed by drivers heading along Rheims Way
Tannery Field is passed by drivers heading along Rheims Way

Yet the authority’s plans are not without their critics. Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffied says she is extremely disappointed by what she describes as a “very narrow proposal” with a “total lack of ambition”.

“It is important that our visitor and cultural economy receives a boost following the pandemic,” she said. “However, the proposed bid not only ignores large parts of Canterbury city, but also Whitstable and the villages, all of which have suffered from the impacts of the pandemic.

“There are so many more things that the council could have included in a bid to improve transport links and boost the economy of the whole district.”

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