Westward Ho! Park - A green haven in the heart of Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! Park is a green space which sits at the heart of Westward Ho! at the junction of Avon Lane and Golf Links Road.

The park has recently renovated the tennis courts and in 2021 installed children's playground. Around the park, volunteers look after the planting, from beds and borders to a sensory garden and community veg planters. There really is something for everyone. The park is used and enjoyed by all, from those taking the dog for their evening stroll to families enjoying the slides and swings.

The park is also home to many planting beds and shrubberies which are very kindly maintained by volunteers. There is even a hotel for the insects to come and enjoy a holiday in Westward Ho!

The Park was handed over to Northam by way of a Community Asset Transfer, having formerly been owned by Torridge District Council. This came after news broke from Torridge in 2015 that there were plans to use most the land for a development of houses. Since the news was received, Northam Town Council worked extremely hard to stop this from happening. Below is a timeline of events.


New Children’s Play Area, benches and picnic tables for Westward Ho!

As most local residents will be aware, Westward Ho! Park was purchased from Torridge District Council, for the community, at the end of October 2020 after lengthy  and protracted negotiations.
Northam Town Council has formed a Westward Ho! Park Committee, consisting of Councillors and co-opted members of the public.
The refurbishment of the play area was a primary concern, following the acquisition and tenders were sought from several specialist play providers.
After a number of meetings where discussions took place on what was required for the play area, the committee received presentations from the invited companies and finally reached a decision.
The play area was opened by characters from 'Paw Patrol' accompanied by the Mayor Cllr Mrs Hodson on the 6th November 2021 as part of  community 'Party in the Park'. This event was hosted by the Town Council and featured entertainers, Exmoor Zoo traveling exhibit, stalls and music from Appledore Band. With a reach across northern Devon, families came from across our region to take part in the fun.
New benches and picnic tables have been placed in the park. The wooden bench, dedicated to the late Mr Mic Durkin is made from a responsibly-sourced hardwood. Mr Durkin was a founding member of member of the movement to save the Park from development. The other benches and picnic tables are made from recycled plastic. This high-density material is robust and weather resistant, ideal for a busy park.
The initial artists interpretation of the park installed.

A little bit of the history

2020: Northam Town Council and Torridge District Council reached an agreement regarding the purchase of Westward Ho! Park.
Northam Town Council sought approval from the Public Works Loan Board to purchase, renovate and regenerate the Park for future residents and visitors to enjoy.

2018: Northam Town Council hold a public consultation with surveys being delivered across the whole Council area. There was a 12.5% response rate, 95% of which expressed their dissatisfaction with the plans to build ten houses on the site, as proposed by Torridge District Council. Similarly, 95% of respondents wanted the park passed to Northam Town Council. 


Successful campaigning: The campaign to save the Park was featured in the Mail on Sunday on 7th October 2018 (see picture above). A petition signed by over 4,000 local residents was also presented to Torridge District Council, as Westward Ho!’s population was 2,266, there was clearly huge support from across the whole community.
2019: The elections saw a number of long-standing Town and District Councillors not standing, or losing their seats. Torridge District Council, now with a majority of independent members, overturned the decision to build on the Park, voting in favour of it being handed over to Northam Town Council. A business plan was prepared by and submitted to Torridge.
1928: Northam Urban District Council recognized the need for a Public Park in this popular seaside village and borrowed, from a Central Government Ministry, sufficient money to purchase the site from the old Bideford & Westward Ho! Railway Company and created ‘The Park’, tennis courts and pavilion.
1974: Under reorganisation, the Urban District Council was wound up and Northam Town Council, along with Torridge District Council was formed. Under the accompanying legislation, the assets of the Urban District Council passed to the new District Council, including Westward Ho! Park.


2015: After hearing news that Torridge District Council were planning to put forward a proposal to build on the Park, it became somewhat of a standing item on the Town Council’s meeting agendas. In March 2016, the Council successfully registered the Park on the ‘List of Assets of Community Value’. This meant that if the District Council wanted to sell the land, they would have to inform the Town Council and give appropriate time for them to make an offer and raise funds. In late September 2015, a local steering group was formed. Also at this time, a public group set up the Westward Ho! Park page on Facebook which currently has 433 members.
2016: At the Annual Electors meeting, a significant number of parishioners attended and spoke in reference to the Park. Lead by the late Mike Durkin, a vote was passed to hold a Parish Poll “I am proposing that the following question be put to the Electorate” “That the Park in Westward Ho! (where the tennis courts, children’s play area and the Happy Cafe are located) should be maintained for recreation, leisure and amenity use only.” There were 30 votes in favour of his motion. Although this Poll didn’t take place, the Park would become a passion for Mike and later prompted him to become a Councillor.