Children’s Playground and Allotments

Aerial view of The Lee

Located in Lee Common, between Oxford Street and Cherry Tree Lane, is a five acre site owned by the Parish Council.

It includes:

a children’s playground and wooden fort with picnic and seating area
an informal football pitch
allotments

as well as a young tree plantation.

Introduction

The residents of and visitors to Lee Common have enjoyed the facilities provided on the public parkland adjacent to Oxford Street for over 160 years. It is continuing evidence of the community spirit that exists in the area and how successful our village can be in making use of our open spaces for the benefit of the whole community.

History

The five acres of land on which the Allotments, the Playground with its Fort and the Football Pitch now stand in Lee Common, was originally a gift made to Great Missenden Parish in 1855 for the use of “the labouring poor of the Parish.” In 1911 it was transferred to The Lee Parish when the parish was enlarged to include villages formerly in other parishes. At that time it was divided into 36 allotments which local residents could rent for 3/- (15p) a year.

Since 1911 various agreements and boundary changes have taken place which further established and protected the site, created a precedent for enabling improvements and improved the sites facilities. These can be summarised in four major developments.

Firstly, the uses of the site were clearly specified and the site was formally protected from building development. In 1920 it was agreed that the Lee Parish Council were obligated to maintain the allotments in a proper state of cultivation and were required to prohibit tenants from using a horse, a mule or a donkey for cultivating their allotments – so clearly not for commercial activities or as a zoo! During the 1980s the site was excluded from a Green Belt exemption that may otherwise have allowed limited infill housing development. In 1994 the legal ownership of the site by The Lee Parish Council was confirmed by its registration as the owner and in 1999 it was agreed that no buildings could be constructed on the site without the consent of The Lee Parish Council.

The second development was that of coordinated financial support for the site by both The Lee Parish Council and the residents and friends of The Lee and Lee Common. The Parish Council had created the Playground in 1967.

The old fort in the playground

This was dramatically enhanced in 1990 by the addition of The Fort with its adjacent slide and tunnel. It was financed by the Parish Council together with local financial donations and the donation of the tunnel by a local resident.

More recently in 2009 the Playground was significantly updated with the addition of new playground equipment. Again this was organised by The Lee Parish Council and local residents and financed by donations from the community together with a grant from a major Charity.

Unusually the third of these developments was paid for by a third party, the Electricity Board. This was the burying, in 2017, of an electricity supply cable which crossed the site from North to South. Though this created some temporary damage to the grass footpath it improved the views over the area. The reason for this improvement was an incident involving a kite and the overhead cable. Fortunately no-one was hurt but it identified a risk and prompted a strong request from The Lee Parish Council for the cable to be buried. Eight years later, during which kites were banned, it was duly buried.

The fourth and most recent development was the replacement of the fort in 2019 after almost three decades of use. The old fort had been repaired a number of times, but was coming to the end of its life. Realising that a replacement would require a significant investment, the Parish Council successfully applied to the HS2 Community and Environments Fund (CEF) for funding for a new fort on the site of the old, which would provide a fort fit (hopefully) for another three decades.

The Playground

The Playground occupies approximately a third of an acre. It includes a variety of swings and climbing structures catering for toddlers and older pre-teenager children together with seating, a picnic table and the Fort.

The Fort is the major feature in the Playground and, with its bridge, cave, the adjacent slide and tunnel it provides a play area full of character. It attracts visitors not only from the Village but also from neighbouring areas.

The Allotments

As of 2018, there are 14 allotments in total of which 10 are rented. The total number of tenants is 16 and the current rent is £25 per annum for a full sized plot and £12.50 per annum for a half sized plot. A full sized plot is approximately 7 x18 meters. To apply to rent an allotment contact The Parish Clerk (email icon clerk@thelee.org.uk)

As Gary and Sophia Fowler, Lee Allotment cultivators for over 20 years, wrote in their article in The Lee Newsletter for February 2018:

“There are no limits to how well your plot can be cultivated, apart from your time, strength and imagination” and “ the therapeutic benefits of spending a few hours weeding, watering and chatting with fellow allotmenteers are not measured by conventional means but by the first beer, glass of wine or cup of tea after a productive open air session.”

The Football Pitch

The Football Pitch is available for anyone to use during day light hours. It is a popular open play area for young people.