Partnering for parks is way forward

Pioneering partnership paves the way for Bracknell park restoration

Four bodies have got together to plan a multi-million pound lottery proposal, highlighting the partnership approach that is essential in winning park restoration awards. The partners, which jointly manage South Hill Park in Bracknell, Berkshire, have overcome initial reluctance by Thames Water to begin the park restoration plan. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded Bracknell Forest Borough Council (BFBC) £42,200 to improve South Hill Park. BFBC is using the money, and £15,000 of its own, to develop a conservation management plan for the site with Land Management Services (LMS). South Hill Park Arts Centre, Thames Water and Bracknell Town Council, which manages the north of the park, are partnering the borough council in the project. At a meeting last month, Andrew MacKay MP (Bracknell, Con.) was instrumental in persuading Thames Water to get involved. Borough council head of culture and visual environment Helen Tranter said the HLF required all parties to be involved. She said Thames Water was a potential stumbling block as it treats the two ponds it manages in the park as drainage ditches. But BFBC director of environment and leisure Vincent Paliczka said Thames had been positive about supporting the bid, which he hopes will restore the lakes, historic planting and involve the arts centre more in its environment. HLF grant officer Sylvia Kneen said applying for HLF funds as a partnership was “unusual”. Thames Water representative Chris Shipway said: “We need to discuss the bid in more detail with the other groups involved before we take a final decision. In principle, we are happy to lend support to the bid but we need to clarify details.” The groups will meet next month for further discussions.

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