Funding for park in centenary year

November 24 2021

PLANS to revamp Kingswood Park are finally back on track thanks to £120,000 lottery funding.

The park, which is 100 years old this year, is in need of rejuvenation but work has been delayed by Covid.

The Friends of Kingswood Park and South Gloucestershire council had submitted a bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) two years ago after two years of public consultation. 

However, funding was diverted to Covid projects and the criteria for funding changed, meaning the bid needed rewriting and resubmitting.

The £120,000 will be used to put detailed plans in place to apply for further NLHF funding of about £2.5 million to actually carry out the work on the park.

The rejuvenation work would then begin in 2023, it’s hoped.

Money could be used for new play equipment, improvements to paths, walls and toilets, as well as work on the ampitheatre used for events and the creation of a community growing area. The park would be made more accessible to people with disabilities and parents with children in buggies, because the current design includes steps and paths that are hard to navigate. The aim is to make the rejuvenated park carbon neutral.

Jim Whittaker from the Friends of Kingswood Park said: “We are overjoyed that this funding has been secured from the NLHF.

“Although it’s the first round, it’s an important development to take things forward.

“The park was a stalwart during Covid and was a place that people could enjoy relaxation and refuge. Many will benefit from this enhancement project.”

Councillor Rachael Hunt and volunteers at the park

More than 260,000 people visit the park each year, and this could increase after the park improvements and the associated high street rejuvenation project. An activities programme and a community health and wellbeing programme could further enhance use of the park.

The restoration project aims to encourage more and wider range of people, voluntary groups and schools to use the park.

Along with Page Park in Staple Hill, Kingswood Park is one of only two formally-laid-out heritage parks in South Gloucestershire.

The land the park occupies was originally purchased by the borough council in February 1921. They allowed the fire brigade to graze their horses, used to pull the fire engines, on the land until it finally opened as a park in 1934. It is hoped that the plans will make the park fit for purpose for another century.

Cllr Rachael Hunt, the council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Local Place, said: “Securing this funding is a significant step forward with our ambitious plans to comprehensively restore and enhance Kingswood Park for the enjoyment and benefit of the local community.

“The Friends of Kingswood Park group has already made a big contribution towards improvements and this funding big reflects the enthusiasm and passion that local people have for the park.

“We want to build on the successes of previous activities and events so more people can enjoy this much-loved community asset.”