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How Hornsey got its terrains

How Hornsey got its terrains.

Hornsey Pétanque Club (HPC) is fortunate in having access to two purpose-built terrains. Club Treasurer John Wilkinson explains how they funded and built them.


Part 1 – Finding the funds


Nestling at the foot of Alexandra Palace in North London, Hornsey is home to an enthusiastic bunch of pétanquistes. Until last autumn we had no custom-built pétanque terrain, but now we have two, a three-piste one in Alexandra Palace Park (known as Ally Pally to the locals) and another in Priory Park with four!


The message from us to any club without a decent terrain is go out and fundraise! When extensive building work was being undertaken near his home, our Chair, Peter Emery approached CField, the developer concerned and suggested to them that a donation from their Corporate Social Responsibility fund towards a local community asset such as a pétanque terrain would be a kind of payback to a community subjected to a long period of building noise and disruption. CField was happy to oblige and Peter negotiated a donation of £10,000 in August 2019 towards the cost.


HPC had been playing on an overflow car park at Ally Pally for a few years. With the prospect of funds being available, we approached both Alexandra Park & Palace Charitable Trust (APPCT) and the London Borough of Haringey Parks Department to explore options. APPCT was quick to see the benefits and agreed in principle to proceed. Since APPCT is a charity, it was agreed that CField would pay the money directly to APPCT who would then pay the contractor, thus avoiding VAT liability.


But then came the pandemic, with prolonged delays in every area, making it difficult to maintain continuity. “It took almost three years from CField agreeing the donation to paying over the money to APPCT” says Peter. “It was probably the worst time imaginable for a company in the construction industry to be charitable. Another donor might have pulled out of the deal, but it's to CField’s credit that it finally gave what it had promised three years before. It’s important to keep donors in the loop and maintain their motivation for the project”.


Part 2 - What? Another one?


When Haringey Council’s Parks Department also expressed interest in our proposal we decided to pursue both opportunities. The Council proposed a location in Priory Park on an old bowling green, disused for decades, and next to a marvellous cafe (and toilets!).


The bowling green was level and very well drained, a big plus and a cost saving. Also, we discovered a tarmac path surrounding the green, quite overgrown during the years of disuse, which will allow us to place benches around the terrain whilst maintaining access to the seating for those with degrees of disability. It will also help us keep mud off the terrain.


Funding for this terrain came from the National Lottery Community Fund. The grant application process for amounts up to £10k was not very onerous and the Community Fund was keen to help groups like ours who could meet their criteria. In submitting the application, our Treasurer John Wilkinson found that it was important to “demonstrate that it would be for the benefit of all, or if the terrain were to be members only, then that membership would be open to all. It would help to have an education strand, and if it can be shown how it would enhance physical, social and mental well-being, so much the better”.


The requirements also included having a club constitution and meeting minutes that supported our activities and a bank account into which to pay the funds. John noted that “we underestimated the difficulty of finding a suitable bank account. In the end we took out a Community Enterprise current account with Metro Bank, which met the requirements.”


We were successful in our application for £10,000. Once again, it was hoped to avoid VAT by passing the funds directly to Haringey Council , but this was not to be. The Lottery will only fund clubs like HPC and cannot give money to either individuals or local authorities. This meant that HPC had to pay the contractor directly plus VAT. Paying the VAT was a challenge, but we were fortunate in having a very generous private donor to cover it. The final cost of the two terrains was around £25,000, just within our budget.


Part 3 – Build it and they will come!


With funding in place and the sites agreed with the APCCT and Haringey Council, we proceeded to research contractors, construction methods and materials.


To say that everything then ran smoothly and quickly would be a significant diversion from the reality. There were the usual planning permissions and tendering processes to undertake, but also delays, misunderstandings and administrative obstacles to overcome, often exacerbated by the lingering after-effects of the pandemic.


We were fortunate to find a reliable construction company, Southern Landscape and Construction (https://southern-landscapes.co.uk ) and together refined our project. “Southern Landscaping were marvellous to work with”, says Peter Emery (Chair). “They made the whole process worry free and they live and breathe quality and pride in their work”.


We settled on a two-layer approach, a 100mm bed of type 1 aggregate with 50mm of Breedon Wayfarer all contained within sleepers laid on edge, so that they were far enough into the ground not to move whilst being far enough out of the ground to ensure that boules stayed on the terrain.


The design of the terrain has been proven in 3 months of hard weather and harder play!


We made sure that the terrains could be accessed by step free paving, which is good for wheelchairs, walkers and keeping the terrain free from mud. We incorporated cut outs in the sleepers to allow wheelchair access. With a plank to fit each gap, retained by battens, we could slide it out to allow wheelchairs in and then replace it to complete the boundary of the terrain.


Although HPC sourced the funding, we are happy that the terrains are now the property of APPCT and Haringey Council respectively. This means that we have no special privileges in using the terrains, but neither do we have the responsibility to maintain or insure them. However, we do keep them leaf free and do various odd bits of maintenance here and there to keep them in good condition.


You may have gathered that our Chair, Peter Emery, is a force of nature who never misses a funding or gift in kind opportunity. To help with our maintenance, he approached Capital Gardens, the garden centre at Alexandra Palace to donate two battery-operated leaf blowers, two rakes and a drag mat. It may have helped that he pointed out that, as a club, our post-match coffee and croissants contributed significantly to their café’s cashflow!


If you happen to be up North London way and would like to see our new terrains, you can find us using what3words.com. The precise location for the Ally Pally terrain is marker.models.manual and for Priory Park it’s kicks.atom.tender.

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