Par Track is part of a park comprising an all-weather floodlit athletics track, three/four football pitches, pavilion, gym, children’s play area and skate park.
Although the rumours began in late 2014, it wasn’t until 2017 that Cornwall Council officially decided to dispose of Par track as part of its devolvement plan.
As there were fears that the facility could be acquired by a housing developer, public meetings resulted in the formation of a working group, the development of a business plan and negotiations with the local authority that persuaded it that the local community could not only manage and run the park, but make it financially viable.
A Community Benefit Society called Par Track Ltd was created representing the three surrounding villages of Par, St Blazey and Tywardreath which together have a population of 12,000. All the directors are local. Cornwall Council retains the freehold under a 125-year lease.
After years of under investment, making the track financially sustainable is a challenge, but Par Track Ltd has a vision: to use the space, including the adjacent local GP health centre, for the community and increase its health and wellbeing through a variety of sporting and lifestyle facilities.
At the heart of the vision is ‘social prescribing’, developing referral routes for people to improve their health and working with the NHS to pilot a school programme.
Par Beach is close, the Eden Project not far away and the National Cycle Network bisects it. Include the wider St Austell area and the facility, which has room to park seventy cars, serves a population of over 30,000. There is only one other all-weather athletics track in the county which now has a population of 566.000.