The world’s first garden city, Letchworth Garden City, opened in 1911 as part of the vision created by social reformer Sir Ebenezer Howard.
Boasting a wealth of stunning gardens, leisure facilities and activity centres, the garden city celebrates a range of attractions to suit all. One such attraction is Howard Park and Gardens, which has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment programme to update and renew the existing facilities.
The £2.7 million project was made possible thanks to a £1.84 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund through the Parks for People programme, and an investment of £700,000 by North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC).
Works included the refurbishment of a 100-metre paddling pool and combined cafe/toilet block with an associated pool disinfection and filtration system. In addition, new water features were installed and trees were replanted.
Main Contractor for the prestigious project is UPM Tillhill and the architect is Paul Bancroft Architects.
John Robinson, Strategic Director of Customer Services at North Hertfordshire District Council, said:
“The challenge was to maintain the original vision for the park whilst upgrading it to meet 21st century standards. Whilst we have retained the existing features, the park has also seen some significant improvements.
“In addition to changing the levels of water so that it can be properly filtered and disinfected, the site has also been made more accessible. This will ensure that the park remains exciting, interesting and safe for years to come.
“The park is a central part of the community and a prominent feature in the memories of the local people. Generations of families have spent their leisure time here and enjoyed the spectacular surroundings.
“As a result, the project has provoked a significant amount of interest within the local community. Several groups have been established to support the project, whilst volunteers have completed many important tasks including hedge-laying. We hope to continue this level of support with an innovative audience development plan and an active community programme over the summer.”
Several efforts have been made to ensure that the project is as sympathetic to the local environment as possible. UPM Tillhill has supplied timber for thirty bat and bird boxes and is working closely with NHDC, community group Groundwork Hertfordshire and local school children to improve the habitat for the creatures and provide homes where they can breed safely.
John Robinson commented:
“Like all projects, there were certain issues that had to be addressed. As we were dealing with an important heritage site, it was important to meet all of the necessary planning regulations. Furthermore, we were working with water, which posed the obvious health and safety issues.
“However, all of the relevant teams have been superb and the project is on track to be delivered before the summer holidays, as we had always intended. This is a critical facility for the community and we are absolutely delighted with the workmanship and craftsmanship that we have witnessed.”
A grand opening for Howard Park and Gardens will be held in May 2012.