I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Project Genesis. For many years it was slow to supply people with detail about what it was doing, kept its intentions under wraps, and preferred just to tell us that it was good for us. We were asked to take it all on trust.
Recently, however, there has been a great deal more openness about its plans, a much greater effort to get alongside the community, and today’s opening of Fawcett Park took that to a new level with representatives invited from many local groups (Friends of the Park, Salvation Army, Royal British Legion, Scouts etc.) as well as children from five of our local primary schools, the same schools which had supplied a time capsule to be buried on the site earlier in the year.
The site, which lies off Genesis Way, includes a couple of excellent artworks and a children’s playground. I checked with the schoolchildren who had road-tested it. It’s excellent too!
One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but talking to people there was a new sense of optimism about a project which has existed for 20 years, but has gained little trust within the community. It can’t be a bad sign that there’s a new website for the project and talk of some potentially exciting developments on the Hownsgill Industrial Estate, as well as environmental projects to link Fawcett Park through to the CTC at the Cuckoo Bridge.
In the end it’s the developments at Hownsgill which will be the real proof of the pudding. Project Genesis was always supposed to feed into the commercial regeneration of the town, particularly employment prospects, and we should all watch progress on that keenly. Consett doesn’t just need more houses and pleasant green spaces. It needs places for people to work and improve their standard of living. That will be the real evidence that Project Genesis is doing more than scratching the surface of the potential of what was once the economic heart of our town.