Lottery money will transform park

Published on: 03 Feb 2016

How the café and community room will look - artist impression courtesy of Quattro Design Architects

IT’S the news many have waited years for. Members of Friends of Page Park spent an anxious few months waiting to hear if their lottery bid which followed seven years of planning and hard work had been successful.
For Friends vice chair Steph Purser it meant many sleepless nights, but the news finally came on January 14 that their hard work had paid off and Page Park would now get the love and attention it deserves.
“We’re a bit exhausted but we’re over the moon,” she said.
“It’s just lovely to be able to restore the park and bring it back to looking how it would have looked in its heyday. It will be fantastic!”
The Friends group, which formed in 1999 to develop and protect the historic park, have been working closely with South Gloucestershire Council on the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG).
The bid was worth £1,628,708 so the Friends and council had to be meticulous in their attention to detail, illustrating that the money would be spent wisely and would benefit the entire community.
The grant forms a large part of the total project fund of £2,182,114 for Page Park and will be used to regenerate the park with the aim of boosting community use and bringing people together.
 What the money still be spent on:
• Cafe and community building
• New toilets
• Restoration of the landmark clock tower and chiming clock
• French boules court
• Toddler play area (funded by South Gloucestershire Council)
• Improved teen area
• Restoration of walls, gate columns and gates
• Reinstatement of railings surrounding park which were taken down in the war
• Improved paths and new planting schemes
• Improved access and signage
• Area for growing plants and vegetables
• Composting area
• A park warden/coordinator
• The tennis club house will also become a centre for park volunteers
• A three-year programme of activities to engage the community in learning about and celebrating the park’s heritage
The jewel in the crown of the new-look park will be the cafe and community room. The cafe will enable members of the community to meet up and the community room will be leased out for parties, meetings, classes, conferences and events. These were top of the Friends’ wish list - along with new toilets - after various consultations with residents and park users.
Mrs Purser said: “We have been working on the lottery bid for well over seven years and we’re all in shock that we’ve actually got it!
“When the Friends got together in 1999 we invited people to an event asking them what they would like to see in the park. This gave us a wish list to work by and we have tried to do as much of that we could but we always knew that we had to find funding one day to restore the structures of the park, which is actually more expensive than creating something from scratch.
“Many of the park’s features like the gates and the clock tower are now at a stage where they wouldn’t have lasted much longer. The whole park was getting very run down and the Heritage Lottery Funding was really our only way out.
“The money will help regenerate the area. People will be able to meet other people. It will bring the park back to what is was and insure the park for future generations.”
The council’s communities chair, Cllr Heather Goddard, said: “The park is the most important green space in Staple Hill and has been enjoyed by generations of local people since it was given to the public in 1910. As well as improving the park and its facilities, we will also be providing additional activities and events so more people can enjoy the space.”
The news comes as part of a £32million funding announcement for parks and cemeteries across the UK.
Nerys Watts, head of HLF South West, said, on behalf of HLF and BIG, “Our parks are where we play some of our first games, where we make some of our first discoveries and where we spend some of our best times with family and friends. However we use them, parks are an important part of life, which is why we’re delighted to be investing National Lottery players’ money in parks from Bristol to Helensburgh to carry out vital restoration and create some wonderful opportunities for communities and wildlife.”
The Page Park clock tower building restoration project also recently received a £50,000 funding boost thanks to a grant from SITA Trust, which was made possible through the Landfill Communities Fund. This will enable major structural repairs to the clock tower, along with painting and decoration, and improvements to the park’s plants and paving around the building.
The improvement work is expected to begin in spring 2016. It is hoped the cafe and community room will be up and running at the beginning of 2017, with the rest of the work complete within three years.
For more information visit www.southglos.gov.uk/pagepark or www.friendsofpagepark.co.uk

How you can have your say on the park’s future

WOULD you like to help shape Page Park’s future?
If so you may like to consider joining the Friends of Page Park or becoming a member of Page Park Community Trust.
The charitable trust will be made up of local residents and park users who will have a say in how the cafe and community room is managed and used.
The Friends are also looking for someone to lease and run the cafe.
“That person has to be community minded,” said Steph Purser.
“They must have the same ideas as the Friends. Obviously they have got to make a profit but it has to be run with a community ethos.
“We are now looking for expressions of interest from anyone looking to take it on as a business.”
The Friends would also love to add to their membership. There are currently more than 100 members, although some are not active.
People are needed to help with gardening and tidying the park.
“We need some new members to help us through this. It’s a big opportunity for the local community and we could really do with some more helpers - the more the merrier! We welcome everyone to come along to our meetings.”
Anyone interested in any of the above roles can contact the Friends via their website www.friendsofpagepark.co.uk. Details of meetings can be found on the website.
The Friends are still raising money towards the park fund. Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so by contacting the Friends’ treasurer (details on website). Don’t forget to include name and address details so the Friends can claim Gift Aid.
Money can also be taken to Brunt and Fussell estate agents, 22 Broad Street, Staple Hill.

What Page Park means to the community

by Steph Purser, vice chair of Friends of Page Park

"PAGE Park a beautiful park with a lovely atmosphere. It's got a lot of history and local people love it. Many have some wonderful stories about it including about meeting their future husbands and wives underneath the clock tower. The park has played a very important part in the history of Staple Hill.
"When Alderman Arthur William Page gave us the park in 1910, his aim was to get people to come together, to get people out of their houses and into the fresh air, particularly those who lived in small houses and worked down coal mines and in the shoe and clothing factories that were in Staple Hill. He wanted them to forget their problems and worries and to come out and meet friends and family and enjoy the fresh air. The park is as important now, if not more important, than it was then. People have the same problems today and the park provides somewhere where children can play, somewhere people can have picnics, meet other people and enjoy the open air. This is what the lottery funding is all about - bringing the community together."

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