Plans to combine two green spaces in Bishop's Stortford into one beautiful park have taken another huge step forward thanks to National Lottery funding.
The grant of £1,939,700, awarded jointly by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund, will enable East Herts Council (EHC) and its partner, Bishop's Stortford Town Council (BSTC) to forge ahead with their plans.
Castle Gardens, owned by EHC, and Sworders Field, owned by BSTC, are located either side of the River Stort. The project will bring these two green spaces together under the banner of 'Castle Park', to become an exciting, vibrant place for the town and surrounding communities to enjoy.
The improvements include:
Making Waytemore Castle - a Grade I listed building and scheduled monument - and the war memorial, commemorating those lost in the two world wars, the prime focal points of the park. This includes crucial work to conserve the castle remains on the top of the mound.
A new crossing will be constructed along the River Stort, providing greater access to the river. Attractive planting and restoration of the river will improve visibility and draw rare wildlife into the area, and with the right conditions even water voles and otters could be spotted.
A new network of paths to improve access for the community, including older and disabled people. The children's play area and splash pool will be better connected by the new bridge.
Teens will have a space designed especially for them, with exciting features such as a new skate park extension.
Considerable changes will be made to the existing buildings to create a new community space with a café and easy access "Changing Places" toilets, providing improved facilities for local people and visitors. The old toilet block fronting the Causeway will be given a new lease of life.
The recently established Friends Group, supported by a new community engagement officer, will help to develop and look after the park and engage local community groups, with training being provided to help this happen. The work to successfully obtain this grant has already been supported by the History Society, the Civic Federation and local residents interested in the project.
EHC executive member for environment and the public space, Graham McAndrew said;" I am so pleased that the Heritage Lottery Fund has seen the potential of this project. The new park and its multiple enhancements will be a very welcome addition to the town, providing a great range of facilities for residents and visitors of Bishop's Stortford."
Derrick Ashley, Hertfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Environment, Planning and Transport, added: "We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund will be supporting this important project. The project, co-ordinated by our Countryside Management Service with EHC and BSTC, has brought together local government and local community groups to develop these exciting plans. When completed, the work will celebrate the role Castle Park has played in the past and enhance it for the future."
Speaking on behalf of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund, HLF's CEO Ros Kerslake said, "From economic prosperity and ecological diversity to personal well-being, parks are essential to the health of the nation. This National Lottery investment will empower local people to maximise the potential of Castle Park as a community space and safeguard its heritage for future generations."
A number of events for the community, such as guided walks, will be arranged from April, further details of these will be shared shortly.
The project continues to benefit from the support of Hertfordshire County Council's Countryside Management Service. A planning application for the works involved has been submitted and will be considered by the Councils Development Management Committee shortly.
15 January 2019