Tree planting marks village green status for historic site in Derby
A COMMUNITY group, set up to preserve one of Derby's oldest open spaces, has held a ceremony to mark the site's dedication as a village green.
River Street Community Group has been working since 2008 to ensure St Alkmund's Green, off Darley Lane, is maintained and protected as an open space for future generations.
The land, which is believed to have been in existence since the eighth century, was given village green status by Derby City Council in 2010 and now the community group has officially marked the accolade by planting a tree at the site.
Chairman Mariano Kaminski said Saturday's tree planting and blessing ceremony was a fitting way to mark how the residents living near the green had united to preserve it for the future.
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The 59-year-old, of Buchanan Street, said: "It is a fantastic piece of land and one with great historical significance to Derby.
"We set up the group four years ago as a way of seeing how the community can come together and improve the area where they live."
Mr Kaminski said the group, which holds responsibility for maintaining the site, had now joined forces with the city council to see how the green could be further improved after a survey found residents wanted it to stay as a recreational area, especially for local children.
Ideas include looking at ways to deter anti-social behaviour and keep the area clean.
He said: "Our aims are to improve the appearance of the land, make sure the space is used and make people in Derby aware of how significant and important the area is to the city."
The site is believed to be the city's second oldest open space. It was owned by the Strutt family before it was sold to St Alkmund's Church for use as a burial ground.
In 1932 it was opened as a playground until it became a play space for St Mary's Primary School in 1968.
By 1971 it was put under council control until the community group took over its maintenance when it was given village green status in 2010.
The Mayor of Derby, Councillor Lisa Higginbottom, who planted the tree, said: "I think it is fantastic that the community has come together so successfully here."