Lottery funding awarded for Stevenage Town Centre green space regeneration

A PROJECT for the regeneration of a town centre green space which has fallen into decline has been awarded �1.7m in lottery funding, it was announced yesterday (Tuesday). Stevenage Borough Council s plans for the Town Centre Gardens include planting bulbs

A PROJECT for the regeneration of a town centre green space which has fallen into decline has been awarded �1.7m in lottery funding, it was announced yesterday (Tuesday).

Stevenage Borough Council's plans for the Town Centre Gardens include planting bulbs, shrubs and hedgerows, improving connections with surrounding areas, an enlarged play area and a grassed terrace.

The award, made by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund through their joint Parks for People programme, means the transformation of the 3.85 hectare space is set to be completed in late 2010.

Cllr John Gardner, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for environment and regeneration, said: "We are extremely pleased," adding: "As our plans have been developed with the local community and voluntary groups, this project will not only reinvigorate the green lungs of Stevenage, but the heart of the community as well."

Stevenage's Town Centre Gardens were developed in the 1960s and provide the only recreational green space in the centre of the town, but they have suffered from a lack of investment.

April last year saw the completion of the first phase of improvements to the northern area of the gardens, behind the swimming pool, following an award of �500,000 from the Government's Growth Areas Fund.

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The area now enjoys better lighting, new footpaths, a jogging track, a new planting of trees and flowers, and clearer, safer views through the open space and play area.

Cllr Gardener said: "Now funding has been secured, phase two of this regeneration project will transform the gardens by creating a modern space that will reflect the original planners' vision for the green space, thus contributing to the heritage of the site.

"The project will also introduce new play equipment, provide greater horticultural interest, and improve public safety with better lighting and pathways."

A community engagement officer will also be employed to develop a wide range of events for residents.

A community fun day, organised by The Friends of the Town Centre Gardens last year, attracted more than 300 people and will now become an annual event.

Barbara Follett, MP for Stevenage, said: "Through the creation of job and volunteering opportunities, the people of Stevenage are going to benefit tremendously from this funding, which will help bring the whole community together in creating an open space that everyone will be able to enjoy.

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