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Castle Park

At the start of 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's 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 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 carried out a public engagement exercise in October and November 2017 to gather people's thoughts on our initial proposals, which received over 650 responses. We have used this feedback to develop our detailed plans for the park - see the summary of proposals below.

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.

Community Involvement

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. A new open area for events will be created in the centre of the park.

Friends of Castle Park - We have recently established a friends group for the park. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to get involved in the park with a range of activities to support including conservation volunteering, running events and discovering archaeology. With training available it is also a great chance to learn a new skill. If you might be interested in joining the group, please email Emily.Clowry@hertfordshire.gov.uk or call 01992 588433.

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. This space will include enhanced skate provision as well as new parkour, climbing and gym facilities.

Biodiversity

River Stort - The River Stort through Castle Park is heavily shaded and not in a good 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.

Wildlife Planting - The area surrounding Waytemore Castle will be planted with vibrant wildflowers that will provide stunning displays as well as a hugely valuable habitat for bees and other insects.

Trees - Some trees will be removed as part of the proposals to allow for development to take place and to enhance other habitats. As trees themselves are important to wildlife and to the landscape, we will be planting more trees than we take out. This will particularly focus upon improving visual screening to the railway line.

Heritage

Waytemore Castle - The Castle is a key part of Bishop's Stortford's heritage. A specialist conservation plan has been produced to ensure the castle remains are adequately protected, allowing us to open up the castle for public access. 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.

War Memorial - A redesigned area of formal planting around the war memorial will better present it within the landscape. The Victorian drinking fountain, currently located beside the castle mound, will also be moved to the southern part of the park to give it greater prominence.

Infrastructure

The Markwell Pavilion - The Markwell Pavilion and the closed toilet block beside the Causeway will be completely converted to provide two community rooms alongside a new café. This café will provide a meeting point within the park and somewhere for people to enjoy refreshments in an attractive park setting. It will also allow us to operate publicly accessible toilets. To ensure that the park is accessible to all, these will include a Changing Places facility for disabled users.

A New Bridge - A new bridge will be constructed to better connect the two sides of the park and help to make a feature of the River Stort. This wide bridge will be designed to be accessible for all users. This will be located to the north of the Splash Pool and will replace the existing bridge slightly further to the north.

Paths - A revised network of paths will better connect the various parts of the park. This will include a new surfaced riverside path that will form part of a sustainable, off-road transport corridor connecting the town and the north of Bishop's Stortford.

Tennis Courts - The current tennis courts conflict with the heritage feel of the landscape due to their close proximity to Waytemore Castle and the war memorial. These will be removed, with replacement courts built to the north of Sworder's Field, where they will sit amongst other recreational facilities.

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

More information about Lottery Funding