MILLBROOK playing fields – which was recently gifted to the adjacent church and public by an anonymous benefactor – could be used to extend Coronation Park, it has been revealed.
The plans for the site, which was once home to the Nightingale Hospital, were announced a few days after the ownership of the area was officially transferred from the previous landowner.
A public consultation is due to launch shortly to get the view of Islanders on exactly what form the extension should take.
Chief Minister John Le Fondré, a former St Lawrence Deputy, said he was unable to recall such a large gift of land to the public in his lifetime.
‘It is very generous and we are very grateful to the benefactor behind this. I think the fact that the land is split between the church and the Island is brilliant and I am not going to pre-judge the consultation, which I think kicks off in the next six to eight weeks. I think there are some initial sketches around that I have not seen for a while – I have heard bits of pieces but I will not comment on those yet,’ he said.
‘The most important thing for me is that it gets preserved as much of an open space as possible and for community use.
‘That is what it has been in all of my lifetime and that is why I am so delighted to see this ownership come across rather than it be built on or something like that,’ he added.
Meanwhile, the parish rector, the Reverend Phil Warren, said the church planned to use the additional outdoor space in part for their child, youth and family groups – as well as allowing the wider community to use it.
‘Most of the area will remain grass with some sensitive landscaping that will flow into what else is happening within the park.
‘It is just a wonderful blessing to be gifted this land,’ he said.
‘We have been in correspondence [with the benefactor] throughout this and I think it is one of those unique occasions where someone is genuinely a philanthropist for no other reason than to give a gift to the Island and the community. We just want to say a massive thank you,’ he added.
Mr Warren said, besides a carefully-chosen fence or wall, the church was not planning to build anything on the land.
He added: ‘From my perspective it needs to be sensitive and in keeping with the space.’
Work is already taking place within Coronation Park to replace the children’s paddling pool.
It is not the only piece of land to be gifted in the area. The land which now forms Coronation Park was gifted by Florence Boot, the husband of the Boots owner Jesse Boot, in the 1930s.
Mrs Boot also rebuilt the adjacent St Matthew’s Church in his memory, commissioning renowned glass artist René Lalique to adorn the building with his work and giving the site its ‘Glass Church’ name.