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Castle Park

In 2017 an initial £250,000 was awarded through the Parks for People programme (part of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund) to enable us and our partners, including Bishop's Stortford Town Council and Hertfordshire County Council Countryside Management Service to develop detailed plans to improve Castle Park. These detailed plans will form a bid for a further £2m to enhance Castle Park.

We have now drawn up detailed plans for the park and we want your thoughts and ideas on the plans

We want Castle Park to be a community hub and provide space for a range of events and recreational activities, while also enhancing the park for wildlife. We are also proposing to protect and conserve Waytemore Castle and carry out archaeological surveys to help us understand how the Castle was once used. Another major enhancement for the park will include a new community building with halls, a café and public toilets plus improvements to the pathways in the park giving greater accessibility.

The changes to the park are summarised below, and we have produced a Castle Park Public Engagement Pack 2017 [5MB]  which goes into the plans in more depth.

Summary of Proposals

The Castle Park proposals are being developed alongside other East Herts Council plans for the adjacent Old River Lane and Grange Paddocks sites, ensuring that these spaces function well together as we deliver a range of new facilities for Bishop's Stortford. The proposals also consider wider strategic and visionary plans, including the Bishop's Stortford Neighbourhood Plan, Waterside Stortford and the River Stort Catchment Plan.

Events & Recreation

Events - Castle Park has the potential to be a community hub with events for all ages. Since the start of the project, new events have been introduced to the park including conservation volunteering, Hertfordshire Health Walks, bat walks and Parkrun. Over the course of the project we are looking to establish more events within the park and are in the process of setting up a Friends of Castle Park group and regular health walks.

Event Space - A new open space will be created where people can relax with a view of the castle. This space can then also be used for smaller events. It will also form a strong link with the memorial garden and is fundamental to the new landscape of the park. The tennis courts will need to be relocated. We are currently carrying out an options appraisal to consider the most appropriate location for new tennis courts as a replacement. These will either be within the park or close by.

A Space for Young People - Amongst the recreational area of Sworder's Field will be a designated space that young people can identify with. To ensure local young people have ownership of this space, a series of engagement events will be held with them to understand what they would like to see in the park.

If your youth group or school would like to be involved in the design process, or if your interested in being part of Friends of Castle Park or leading a health walk please email Emily.Clowry@hertfordshire.gov.uk or call 01992 588433.

Biodiversity

River Stort - The River Stort is currently classified as being in a bad ecological condition. A reduction in tree cover will not only increase the prominence of the river within the landscape, but also improve the habitat of the river corridor. Increased light levels will support a greater abundance and diversity of plant species. These in turn will provide a habitat for a range of animals, including a number of bird species and also water voles, which have recently been re-introduced to the south of the town.

Attractive Planting that Supports Wildlife - The formal area to the south of Waytemore Castle will transition to the recreational space of Sworder's Field through a natural zone. Tired, ornamental shrub beds around the castle will be replaced with formal wildflower planting beds and wildflower planting will replace the hedge at the bottom of the Castle Mound. These will provide stunning displays but also be of significant benefit to bees and other insects.

Conservation

Waytemore Castle - The Castle is a key part of Bishop's Stortford's heritage. A specialist conservation plan will be produced to ensure the castle remains are adequately protected, allowing us to open up the castle for public access. Archaeological investigations will discover any lost remnants of the bailey that will have once surrounded the castle. A scheme of interpretation will provide people with the opportunity to learn about the history of the castle and visualise how it would have once looked. Upon completion, up lighting will showcase the mound and castle remnants.

Infrastructure

The new Markwell Pavilion - We are working with architects to design a new building for the park, which will enhance the current provision and replace the closed toilet block, garages and Markwell Pavilion. The Markwell Pavilion provides a community space for the town that is frequently used by local groups. We are proposing to enhance this space with a new, purpose built facility. This will provide flexible and divisible community spaces that can be used by community groups, as well as for events, exhibitions and as a teaching space. We would like to include a café within the design of the building, providing a meeting point in the park and somewhere for people to enjoy refreshments in an attractive park setting.

Bringing an income to the park, it could provide a sustainable means by which we could operate a public toilet from this building.

Want to know more about this project?

Visit the Castle Park Facebook page or Twitter account for more information.

Alternatively, you can contact Emily Clowry if you have any queries:

Email - Emily.Clowry@hertfordshire.gov.uk
Phone - 01992 588433

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