By Mark Hotton
Bracknell Forest Borough Council plans to apply for £4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for South Hill Park after completing stage two of the restoration of Lily Hill Park. The second phase at Lily Hill Park, formally opened last week, has restored its western section, which has Victorian and 1930s features, including a ha-ha sunken fence. Contractor Frosts added new trees and footpaths.
Bracknell council head of culture and visual environment Helen Tranter said the council developed a strategic plan for Lily Hill 10 years ago, following an attempt to develop housing in the park.
With £2m from the HLF, the council set about clearing much of the undergrowth to reveal the landscape and the plants.
Tranter said the council was preparing a restoration plan for the 9.6ha South Hill Park to submit to the HLF. She hoped work could start in two years, with the experience gained from the Lily Hill likely to make the next job quicker.
Landscape consultancy Lear Associates representative Michael Lear said that once the undergrowth had been cleared, a “Rhododendron time capsule” of more than 80 species was discovered. “Benign neglect” had saved a heritage vintage collection with the choking undergrowth maintaining the plants, which were virtually untouched since they were planted in the 1920s.
Lear is now trying to identify the rarities and begin propagation.
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