Green Spaces and Grounds Maintenance Service
Chichester District Council is responsible for some beautiful green spaces. This includes parks, formal gardens, nature reserves, cemeteries, closed churchyards, car parks and small parcels of land. Our dedicated grounds maintenance team looks after more than 90 sites across the district. The following pages provide more information about what we do.
We believe green spaces are integral to people's quality of life. They provide places for people to play, exercise, socialise, relax and connect with nature. We believe all our sites are important, sometimes for different reasons. Some of our sites support wildlife, some support sports and some simply provide a tranquil space to escape daily pressures. Some of our sites receive a greater amount of resource due to their popularity but we care just as much about our quieter sites and do our best to manage all of them consistently. This means any site managed by us should be safe, maintained to a good standard and enhanced when the opportunity presents itself. This is the approach we take:
- Safety - Parks and green spaces come with inherent risks. Tree roots, slopes, ponds and wild areas present their own hazards. We wouldn't want to change this, it's nature, but we can manage our own activities and facilities in a way that promotes safety. For this reason we risk assess every site and every task we complete. We continually inspect and maintain our sites; surveying trees, repairing worn, damaged or broken fixtures and fittings.
- Maintained to a good standard - With so many sites to look after we have to be realistic about standards of maintenance. Poor maintenance is obviously not acceptable whereas a Kew Gardens standard is somewhat unrealistic. People's expectations can vary. Some expect short grass while others prefer it to naturalise. We aim the get the balance right by providing sites that are clearly looked after to a good standard, balancing public use with biodiversity and climate change objectives in mind. We also manage our sites sensibly, recognising the fact they are funded through the public purse.
- Enhancements - We are a small and busy team so finding the time to identify and implement enhancements is limited. However, when an opportunity presents itself, we do our best to enhance our sites. This can be through the introduction of new facilities or a change in use to meet demand.
No two days are the same in the management of green spaces but here are some of the common things we deal with:
Six of our parks are equipped with children's play areas. These are treated as a priority; inspected three times a week and repaired continuously to ensure user safety. Play areas are replaced when it is no longer economical to repair them, usually every 10-15 years. We believe play should be inclusive so all new play areas will be designed and installed with this in mind.
We survey our trees every two years and carry out work to keep them in the best condition we can. We avoid felling trees wherever possible and actively plant new ones to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Nature and biodiversity
A number of our sites are managed with biodiversity as the priority and we are fortunate to have two local nature reserves. We are increasingly looking at how biodiversity can be enhanced on our other sites by relaxing our mowing regime or allowing areas to naturalise. This can mean some areas look a little 'scruffy' but this is intentional and part of our balanced approach to site management.
We were one of the first local authorities to move away from seasonal floral displays to sustainable plants that do not need watering and provide wildlife benefits. Our beds look less formal, and even have some weeds in them, but we're ok with this as we think they still look great and are much more environmentally friendly.
Football, Rugby, Softball, American Football, Parkrun, Cricket and Bowls are just some of the sports we support on our sites. Every year we renovate our pitches and prepare them for the following season. Throughout the season we aerate, cut the grass and line mark pitches for training and matches.
To support team sports we have pavilions in four of our parks. These provide changing facilities and toilets for teams and match officials. We ensure the buildings are properly maintained and cleaned for use.
Many of our sites offer the perfect setting for an event, whether it be large or small. Our team ensures a site is prepared and coordinates any reinstatement work needed following an event.
We are fortunate to have the support of numerous volunteer groups that help us to look after our sites. These dedicated individuals give up their time to maintain and enhance our sites for public enjoyment. They are the unsung heroes, and we thank them for all their hard work.
Although the council's car parks are run by a separate team we ensure the green elements within them are cared for. We cut the grass, trim bushes, remove weeds and complete minor tree work.
There is a surprising number of little green spaces in random locations across the district. These are often simply grassy areas with a few trees. Although they are managed by the council's Estates Team we provide the grounds maintenance service.
Cemetery and burial service
We provide a burial service operating from two cemeteries: one in Chichester and one in Petworth. We work closely with local funeral directors or families can come direct to us to make their own arrangements. We also deal with assisted burials where no next of kin can be found for the deceased. We ensure our cemeteries are well maintained, including testing headstones for ongoing stability.
Church of England churchyards that have no more room for burials, are closed with the authority of the King. At this point responsibility for maintenance of the grounds passes to the parish council, which can then pass responsibility to the Local Authority. We currently look after twelve churchyards and maintain them with sensitivity and biodiversity in mind. As such maintenance is relatively light: enough to maintain them in decent order but to also support wildlife.
We do not look after:
- land owned by West Sussex County Council;
- town or parish councils;
- housing associations;
- community trusts, charities; or
- private landowners.