£5m upgrade for Avon landscape

Popular tourist attraction's garden to enjoy a significant makeover.

A £5m project is set to turn the landscape near Stratford-upon-Avon’s world-famous theatres into world-class design. Bancroft Gardens, next to one of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC’s) theatres, and a nearby recreation ground are lined up for around £3m worth of work. It will include soft and hard landscape and lighting for 24-hour use. Meanwhile, an international competition launched last week will single out a designer for a 20m-long footbridge spanning the River Avon. This project will cost £2m. Project leader Paul Ogden said: “We want to upgrade the spaces and bring them up to world-class standard. The area needs to be more vibrant and to host events such as outdoor theatre and music. “Within the gardens is the Stratford Canal, which is a gateway to the English canal system. There will be large-scale public consultation because we want to take everybody with us.” Stratford-on-Avon District Council, which is inviting tenders, is applying for Heritage Lottery Fund money and will tie the landscaping into an ongoing £100m waterfront master-plan that includes theatre upgrades. Work could start in December. Bancroft Gardens, a formal park with flowerbeds, is known as the RSC’s “front garden” and the recreation ground as its “side garden”. Ogden said: “The design will need to survive mass wear and tear. Bancroft Gardens is heavily used and we would like to draw people to the recreation ground.”

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