VIP reception for refurbished Harlow Town Park
Politics / Tue 2nd Aug 2016 pm31 01:53pm
THE work carried out to revitalise and restore Harlow Town Park was celebrated on Sunday 31 July 2016 when an official completion event for the Town Park Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) project was held.
The event was held at the new Learning Centre next to Pets’ Corner; attendees included representatives from the HLF, BIG Lottery and Chair of Harlow Council, Councillor Edna Stevens, who gave a speech commending the hard work that has gone into making the Town Park the excellent open space it is today.
The project was funded by £1.83m from the HLF and the Big Lottery Fund as part of Harlow Council’s £2.8m restoration of Harlow Town Park. The park has been completely transformed and the vision of the HLF project was to:
“To amplify the awareness, appreciation and enjoyment of Harlow Town Park, a vast and valued iconic ‘New Town’ parkland, connecting its historical, social and ecological qualities; restoring and adopting its unique collection of features and styles for today’s park users.”
The project was split between physical improvement works (landscaping and building) across the park and an activity plan that has helped increase education and volunteering opportunities in the park, as well as the range of activities and events the park hosts for local people.
The Town Park has seen a number of landscaping and building projects completed since work began back in December 2014:
Landscaping (carried out by contractor Blakedown Landscapes) included the restoration of the Water Garden, which entailed desilting of the pond, renewal of pebble edging to pond, removal of trees to open up the views, new planting within the ponds and around the water garden on the banks. The Rhododendron Dell beds were extended and renewed; new and improved footpaths across the park, which have improved access across the park; new planting areas, including a new Winter Garden, and in the Spurriers Core area, were also installed.
Landscaping works also included the planting of at least 100 new trees across the park in the Cherry Orchard, the Specimen Garden and the Winter Garden.
Building works (carried out by contractor Bolt and Heeks) took place at Spurriers House, with the restoration of the original 1860s house by removing the 1960s extensions and toilet block, conversion of the ground floor space into a new café (due to open in the autumn 2016), and an office for the Pets’ Corner Manager and the Town Park Education and Volunteer Officer. The Bandstand has been refurbished, with repairs made to the roof, the installation of new doors and cladding surrounding the Bandstand, and new concrete and decking to the front of the Bandstand. The new straw bale Learning Centre, used for the Land Based Studies students and school visits to Pets’ Corner and the Town Park, was also built.
In addition, Pets’ Corner was refurbished throughout with new main gates and access points around the site, a new events barn, improved drainage to ensure that the site meets zoo licence requirements, new quarantine zones for the animals, reconfiguration of the site to provide a new staff room and gift shop.
The Town Park activity plan has led to several major achievements for the Town Park, the most recent being the Green Flag Award which recognises the Town Park as one of the best kept open spaces in the country.
The activity plan has also seen the set-up and running of regular volunteer groups, which provide invaluable support for the maintenance and upkeep of the park, and work experience projects with Harlow College students including painting of the inside of the Bandstand, laying paving and creating raised beds in the Walled Garden, and Graphic Design students undertaking a module producing publicity and street furniture designs.
Regular monthly guided walks weekly ‘Social Strollers’ health walks are held across the park, as well as specialised walks and talks such as bat walks. A new orienteering map and markers have been produced in partnership with Chigwell & Epping Forest Orienteering Club, and weekly parkrun events, which regularly attract over a 100 participants, have been introduced. The new junior parkrun event (for participants aged 4 to 14 years) began on Sunday 24 July 2016 with over 110 participants.
Thanks to the activity plan the Walled Garden is starting to become a community horticultural hub, both for Land Based Studies students and wider community members. The new raised beds in the Walled Garden have helping to produce food for the animals at Pets’ Corner (as well as the volunteers and students). The Walled Garden is evolving and has, over the last year, seen the introduction of a greenhouse, bee hives (honey from these is being sold in the Pets’ Corner shop) and a wildflower area. Over the coming year a container area will be developed to provide additional storage for Pets’ Corner and the park, and another classroom.
The activity plan also included the production of a new Education Resource pack, which provides a programme of activities for local schools and preschool groups to use the Town Park as an education facility, including the opportunity to attend sessions in the new Learning Centre.
Councillor Tony Durcan, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration & Enterprise, said: “Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the BIG Lottery Fund we have been able to completely transform our much loved park and restore it to its former glory. It is great to see so many local families enjoying the new surroundings. The Town Park’s transformation has been one big team effort with volunteers, Council staff, Town Park User Group and contractors all working together to make this once again a place to be proud of.”
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