National Lottery funding success will restore award winning Stafford park

Work on a £2.5 million restoration of the award winning Victoria Park in Stafford will go ahead thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.

The Borough Council announced today it had been successful in its bid for over £1.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund as part of the ‘Parks for People’ programme.

Plans have already been approved for the restoration work that will concentrate on the historical section of the park, which boasts a bowling green and aviary along with historical features such as the Mottram Shelter and County War Memorial with the River Sow running through the centre.

Feedback from residents and community groups has revealed the majority of those using the park would like an enhanced catering facility, a better aviary and have a horticultural learning centre – among a number of ideas put forward.

The £2.5 million project is made up of the £1,716,300 National Lottery money with the additional £800,000 coming from the Council. Work is expected to start in January.

You can see the proposed improvements with a virtual tour of the park from www.staffordbc.gov.uk/hlf.

The tour shows plans for an improved entrance to the park, a new covered seating area overlooking the river and bandstand, and improvements to the Edwardian path, historic structures and toilet facilities. The scheme would see enhanced landscaping across the park and restoration of listed structures and ornate railings.

Victoria Park is more than 100 years old and has been awarded the ‘Green Flag’ – as one of the best parks and open spaces in the country – since 2007. In 2011 the Council transformed the play area of the park which has proved an enormous success with families and young people and it was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by online travel review site – Trip Advisor – for its great customer feedback.

Councillor Mike Smith, Cabinet Member for Leisure, said the authority had an excellent track record in improving facilities in the borough.

He said:

“It is tremendous news that we have secured this funding from the HLF and Big Lottery Fund to go ahead and improve on what is an already popular park. And thank you to the hard work of those who made sure we were successful in getting this grant.

“Victoria Park is a jewel in the Stafford crown and an important gateway to the town for visitors arriving from the railway station. We want to ensure it will continue to be a beautiful haven for local people and visitors to enjoy for many, many years to come.

“This work is about restoration. We want to bring back and restore historic features so they are not lost for future generations – while improving on existing facilities using the feedback from residents, park users and those who play an important role within the park.”

Councillor Smith added: “The wellbeing of our community is one of our top priorities and the appropriate investment in open spaces and parks is key in helping us achieve this.”

HLF’s Chief Executive Ros Kerslake, said, on behalf of HLF and Big Lottery Fund:

“It’s difficult to overstate the importance of our public parks. Vital to our well-being and essential to biodiversity, they are highly valued spaces enjoyed daily by people from all walks of life. Victoria Park is one of the latest parks to benefit from over £900million of National Lottery funding, which over the last twenty years has played a crucial role in revitalising more than 800 parks across the UK.”

More information on the park at www.staffordbc.gov.uk/victoriapark.

To take the virtual tour go to www.staffordbc.gov.uk/hlf.