Designer eyes hydropower to shift revamped park from fossil fuel power

Plans to restore one of Britain's most popular parks have moved closer after a lottery grant was awarded towards the £6.6m design that will include zero-carbon initiatives.

LDA Design’s aim to rejuvenate Cassiobury Park in Watford won funding from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG). The 75 hectare park was recently voted the nation’s third favourite park in the Green Flag People’s Choice Award poll and receives two million visits a year.

But many of its historic features including a bandstand, drinking fountain and water mill have been damaged or destroyed while other features have been obscured through changes in land management.

"The plan to transform the park will see features restored," said director Sally Prothero. "We aim to reveal the lost character of the 380-year-old landscape and revitalise its 20th-century overlay as a public park serving Metroland suburbia."

Key features of the proposals include improving parkland and river-valley landscapes by restoring grasslands and reversing the loss of views across the River Gade and Grand Union Canal through the thinning of trees and scrub.

A crux element of the plan is to move the park away from fossil fuels and high carbon emissions. LDA is looking at possible use of hydropower by building a modern water mill and heating buildings using biomass generation within the park.

Prothero's team will also restore historic parkland and woodland rides, conserve veteran trees along a lime avenue and restore the layout of key features of the 20th century park including a listed tea pavilion and a lost drinking fountain.

It will retain and improve a popular 1980s paddling pool and croquet pitches and create a new hub building with improved facilities and as a base for park rangers.

The HLF and BIG grant to Watford Borough Council of £418,600 enables the design team to firm up a full grant bid. This is due in February 2013 and building works are due to start on site in 2014.

Robyn Llewellyn, head of the HLF in the east of England, said: "This initial lottery support will mean major redevelopment plans can get underway to make this important green space a high-quality resource."

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