A development funding grant of £215,100 has been awarded to help Central Bedfordshire Council and its partners progress their plans to apply for a full grant in 2014.
Local ward councillor and supporter of the bid, Cllr Susan Goodchild, added: "I was absolutely delighted to hear this news! The local community have already been a part of the bid and we really hope that they will be involved going forward too. The plans would really give the area a sense of place, giving the opportunity for people to work in both traditional skills and also as educational volunteers. But it's not only about bringing together the people in our town to celebrate our heritage - we also hope that it will attract visitors to our area."
The project at Houghton Hall Park will seek to create a vibrant park landscape that celebrates its heritage through the restoration and interpretation of heritage and landscape features. A working kitchen garden and formal garden will be restored, and the original flow and ‘feel’ of the historic parkland will be recreated.
The project will provide improved facilities and access, to encourage use and increase community pride in the park. Facilities will include children's play, improved paths and entrances and interpretation. With its café, toilets and activity space, a Heritage Hub will provide a community space; showcasing local heritage, and acting as a focal point for park activity.
The project team will be work with the community to capture memories and develop local knowledge about the history of Houghton Hall Park. Schools and colleges, young people and community organisations will play a role in the project and local people will also have a chance to volunteer to help revitalise the park.
The remainder of a 12th Century manorial estate, Houghton Hall Park has played an important role in the social life, culture and economy of Houghton Regis over the centuries. The Park as we know it today was created in the 17th Century by the Brandreth family. Radical Parliamentarian Henry Brandreth brought the Brandreths to Houghton Regis and over the years the family, and the Park itself, experienced its share of rises and falls, family scandals and dynastic marriages. Despite its decline, Houghton Hall Park continues to be a landmark of Houghton Regis.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities (Services) at Central Bedfordshire Council said: "We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund have given us this support. Investment in the park is essential to increase use of this valuable community resource, provide much needed facilities and allow it to meet the increasing pressures from population growth." He added "Houghton Hall Park has been a feature of life here for centuries, and this project will help to ensure that it is here and loved for centuries to come"
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the East of England said: "We’re delighted to be able to support Houghton Hall Park in developing their proposals. Parks mean so much to so many of us and they bring lots of benefits to our quality of life and now, more than ever, it is important that we can give them the opportunity to grow and thrive. This grant will help the community gain new opportunities to get involved in looking after and improving their local park. Many public parks are really suffering in the current economic climate so this is particularly good news for the area."
Full consultation on project proposals will be carried out with local stakeholders and members of the public as part of project development. The process for consultation will be advertised locally.
Central Bedfordshire Councils’ Countryside Access Service manages country parks and sites across Central Bedfordshire, and has been working with Houghton Regis Town Council and the Greensand Trust to develop the project to restore Houghton Hall Park in Houghton Regis. The project aims to improve restore the vitality of the park; celebrating local heritage and improving facilities and access to the park.
Current plans for the Park are Subject to advice of experts over the next 12 months and public Consultation. Final plans for the Park may differ from those currently anticipated.
Individuals and organisations who wish to receive information updates about the project or who wish to get involved with the project can register their interest at: https://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/officeforms/houghtonhallpark.ofml
ConsultationA stakeholder Consultation was held with local organisations and Community groups in January 2013. A number of surveys have also been undertaken to ascertain public opinion about the Park and possible restoration Work.
Extensive survey work and public Consultation will be undertaken over the next 12 months as part of the next phase of project development.
o July 2013: HLF Permission to Start Project
~ July 2013 to August 2014: Extensive project planning with HLF grant providing the
resources to commission the necessary professional studies and surveys
o August 2014: Round Two (Delivery) Stage Bid submitted
o November 2014: Result announced/ delivery grant awarded
o January 2015: Delivery work commences (if successful)
~ December 2017: Project Completed
FundingRound One Bid (this bid) - HLF Grant of £215,100
Round Two Bid (Aug 2014) - requesting circa £1.25 million
Project ContactKim Owens, Senior Fundraising and Projects Officer, Countryside Access
Ext: 76821 | Mob 07837 121077 | Email: kim.owens@centraIbedfordshire.gov.uk