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Railway staff help build new sensory garden for Pontarddulais community

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Network Rail and contractors, Centregreat, teamed up with a local volunteer group to help put the finishing touches to a new relaxing space in south west Wales at Coed Bach Park in Pontarddulais following their completion of bridge repair works in the area. 

Working with local community groups, Our Place and Friends of Coed Bach Park, the team of 10 spent yesterday (13 May) laying a stone path to access the new sensory garden.

Over the past two years, volunteers from the group have been working to create a sensory garden in a disused part of the park. They have cleared the area and installed seating, as well as planting various flowers, grasses and bamboo. The new path that leads from the car park will mean the garden is now accessible for people with disabilities who are supported by Our Place.

Suzan Jones, from Friends of Coed Bach Park, said: “This project has been a labour of love for us over the past two years. Starting out as an area overgrown with trees and shrubs, lots of hard work by our volunteers has created this beautiful garden where people can come to sit and experience the sights, sounds and smells.

“This new path is the icing on the cake for us, meaning the garden is now accessible for everyone to use. We are very grateful to Tonia, Network Rail and Centregreat for helping to make it happen.”

Supporting the Friends of Coed Bach Park volunteer group was the idea of the local MP.

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Tonia Antoniazzi, MP for Gower said: “It was great to join Network Rail staff at Coed Bach Park, to see how they are helping local community groups, ‘Our Place’ and ‘Friends of Coed Bach Park’.  I have no doubt that the work that has been done will go down well with everyone who uses the popular park.

“My thanks go out to the Network Rail and Centregreat staff for taking the time to lend a hand. Their kind gesture, after months of hard work on the bridge, has made an invaluable contribution to the community.”

The staff from Network Rail and Centregreat have recently been working in the local community, carrying out repair works on the nearby Pentre Road bridge. The six-month project caused unavoidable travel disruption through the area, so as a way of thanking the community for their patience, the team wanted to volunteer their time to help with the park project.

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Kevin Collins, project director for Wales at Network Rail, said: “It’s great to be able to give something back to locals to show appreciation for their patience whilst we have been carrying out work.

“The repairs and refurbishment of the bridge now gives it a 60-year lifespan, as well as enabling it to take vehicles up to 40 tonnes.

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“Hopefully the new path we have helped to install in the park will last just as long and bring enjoyment to those who live nearby.”

Work to repair and refurbish the bridge, which carries the B4296 over the railway tracks, began in November last year and was completed in April 2021.

An assessment of the bridge was carried out for any cracks or damage, a challenging process that involved grit-blasting off multiple layers of paint to ensure a thorough inspection could be carried out.

An initial estimate was that around 40 repairs would be required. However, after a detailed investigation, the number of repairs identified was 150, resulting in the project taking longer than planned.

Now the work is complete, the structure can now take vehicles up to 40 tonnes and be fit to serve the local community for generations to come.

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As well as the repairs to the structure, a footpath has been installed on the bridge by Swansea Council, as part of Welsh Government’s Active Travel programme, to make the bridge safer for pedestrians.

Lead image: From right to left: Suzan Jones from Friends of Coed Bach park, Andrew Edwards from Our Place, Tonia Antoniazzi, MP for Gower and Lee Ackerman, Network Rail Project Manager (Image: Network Rail)


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