Green Flag to bullish residents

A renovated town park has been given a national award but discontent about the redesign rumbles on.

Stevenage Town Centre Gardens has been given a Green Flag award – recognising it as one of the best green spaces in the country – but residents say the redesign by the borough council has removed natural habitats and the beauty of the area.

Bedwell resident Laszlo Puskas, who has enjoyed the gardens for 50 years, echoed others on The Comet’s letters pages over the past weeks.

“The council regeneration project destroyed the visual richness and beauty of our town centre gardens. The sixty plus trees needlessly cut down destroyed the ecology – home to a multitude of insects, birds and wildlife, which have now gone. Rare species that once roosted and spawned there have been driven off or removed. It is unlikely that they will ever return.

“The old gardens provided protection from the noise and fumes pollution around them. They were a delight to our senses – they scented the air with their blooms. When passers-by noticed the blossom they knew spring had arrived.

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“It is not only a waste of �1.7 million lottery fund money, but also an insult to our intelligence and our ecological sensitivities.”

John Gardener, Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) environment and regeneration portfolio holder, said there is “every indication” that many more people are using the restored gardens.

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“There may be some increase in human-generated noise as people from all generations enjoy themselves. But for many it provides a tranquil oasis from the bustle of town centre activity,” he said.

“Considering the town centre gardens provide a mixture of formal gardens and recreation for young and not-so-young rather than a dedicated wildlife site we are confident that adequate provision has been made to maximise biodiversity of the total garden area as it matures during the coming seasons.”

Fairlands Valley Park in the town and Norton Common in Letchworth GC were also both given Green Flag status last week - the third year running for Fairlands and the second for the common.

Howard Burrell, leisure portfolio holder at SBC said: “Stevenage is a very green town, our residents and our visitors make great use of all our parks and open spaces, and it’s gratifying to get this national recognition for two of our parks.”

At North Herts District Council’s Letchworth office, environment portfolio holder, Peter Burt said: “Anyone who visits North Herts knows that we have a lot of beautiful parks and green spaces throughout the district. This award is recognition of the work that goes into keeping them that way.”

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