Published: 06:00, 23 July 2019
A town’s park is to undergo a multi-million pound transformation after council chiefs secured a huge grant.
Bosses at Ashford Borough Council submitted a planning application earlier this year to update Victoria Park, including plans to repair the Grade II-listed Hubert Fountain and build a new children’s play area.
The scheme depended on the council securing £3 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund - and council bosses have now found out their bid has been successful.
The extra £1.4m required to complete the project will come from contributions from the council, the Friends of Victoria Park and section 106 payments paid for by developers.
An extension is now set to be built to the existing nursery building to form a community hub, which will house public toilets, a cafe with outdoor seating and a flexible events area.
The council also has plans to install a dirt track for teenagers, a sensory garden in the current site of the secret garden and a long grass area for a maze project.
An eye-catching new tower slide could be erected within the redevelopment.
The iconic Grade II-listed Hubert Fountain will also receive a makeover as bosses plan to restore and repair the historic feature.
The council plans to install new CCTV cameras and lighting, as well as add 17 car parking spaces, including two disabled bays to the Jemmett Road site.
Nesting boxes and log piles will be placed along the River Stour to enhance wildlife and a timber dipping platform and seating area could be erected along the river.
The council says construction work could start in the winter months.
A spokeswoman said: “As well as the Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the rest of the project is being funded by a mixture of section 106 contributions from local developments, direct contributions from Ashford Borough Council and in-kind commitment from organisations such as the Friends of Victoria Park and other community groups.
“We now need to complete the detailed designs for the various projects proposed for the park and then appoint the required contractors to undertake the improvement works.
“We will be looking to appoint some key members of the project delivery team in the coming months, so that we can engage with park users and prepare some of the initial landscaping works that should be taking place during the coming winter months.”
Four new staff members will be employed to manage the project, including a park officer who will be based on the site.
Council bosses say there will also be opportunities for the community to get involved with volunteering roles.
About £1.9 million will be spent on repairs and conservation of the historical aspects of the park, and another £1 million has been earmarked for new building work including access paths, signage, bridges and dipping platforms.
More than 1,000 people submitted feedback during a consultation process, with many stating the desire for a cafe, improved play area, toilets and better security.
Cllr Peter Feacey, portfolio holder for culture, tourism and leisure, said: “We are very pleased to have been awarded this money from the National Lottery Heritage Fund - this is a regeneration project that we can’t wait to start.
“The funding means we can make these exciting improvements, reconnecting people with this historic park and its heritage.
“Events and activities focused on children and young people and resources for schools will encourage our younger residents to visit.”