Town Centre Gardens reopens to community after �1.7m revamp

A park in the heart of Stevenage has officially reopened after a �1.6m renovation.

Stevenage Town Centre Gardens, a key element in the original design of the new town which opened in 1961, was officially reopened on Friday after 12 months of renovation work.

The gardens have been re-landscaped, the pond, including its sculptured fountain restored, and a new play area installed with Heritage Lottery funds.

The money, sourced by the borough council, will also pay for a community liaison officer to manage the use of the park, while volunteers have formed a friends of the gardens group to help maintain the area.

Council project manager Gordon Drake said the work has given a new lease of life to the gardens.

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“It got to the stage where it got dismal and dark. Now it’s really transformed.

We are making it more usable for community events. We have developed an area that the community can use,” he said.

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John Gardner, executive member for environment and regeneration at the authority, said the gardens have always been an important part of the town centre.

“The project has enabled us to preserve and enhance their heritage for future generations of Stevenage people. People are already enjoying the space and since the play area was opened a few weeks ago it has been very popular with local children and visitors to the gardens.”

Pupils from nearby St Vincent De Paul Primary School who had spent weeks creating a dance and songs to mark the occasion put on a brave face when the weather took a turn for the worse and the new plants got a good watering.

Despite the downpour, the children entertained dignitaries, council members and project funders with a song charting the history of the gardens.

The celebrations continued throughout the weekend with a children’s fun day on Saturday and open-air theatre workshops and performances on Sunday.

Other events planned for the gardens during the summer include a teddy bears picnic, a giant games day, circus skills workshop, and an annual family fun day.

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