£2m Hermitage Park project ‘like an iceberg’

Hermitage Park is in line for a makeover - but it won't be complete until 2017.
Hermitage Park is in line for a makeover – but it probably won’t be complete until 2017.

Residents have been urged to patient over the £2m redevelopment of Hermitage Park, with an assurance that work is under way behind the scenes.

First round approval of a grant for the regeneration project from the Heritage Lottery was confirmed in early January, and this first round approval includes a grant of £169,700 to carry out the development phase.

It will pay for the development of a whole park plan including proposals for the A-listed monument and memorial gardens, investigative work to deal with the flooding and erosion and a community consultation process.

The development phase will end with the submission of the stage two application which, it is hoped, will be in the February 2015 round of submissions.

However, both the Friends of Hermitage Park and Argyll and Bute Council  say this is ambitious and the second stage might not be submitted until August next year.

The council’s policy lead for amenity services, Ellen Morton, said: ‘’ This is such an exciting project and I for one am eager to see the project move forward.

“People are, as I am, keen to see work beginning, however, I would encourage patience.

“Just because there are no workmen on site does not mean there is no work ongoing. Projects like this are like icebergs – much of the work can be unseen.

“We are also eager to hear from members of the public with any ideas they might have for the park’s future development. Their input is vital.’’

The process for the development phase includes:

  • Recruitment of a dedicated park officer (currently advertised, with a closing date of April 4)
  • Issuing of tenders for consultants
  • Appointment of consultants
  • Development and drafting of a conservation management plan
  • Public consultations on the draft and finalising of it
  • Development of activity, business, funding, marketing and management plans

Chris Packard, chair of the Friends of Hermitage Park, said: ‘’It was encouraging to see the council tackling the initial tasks with urgency and making sure the best people are recruited or hired to make the right choices for Hermitage Park.

This is not a process that can be rushed and likewise the whole development phase, an important part of which will be the public consultation, will take time.

‘’Although the main works are unlikely to be completed before 2017, the council and Friends will continue to carry out regular improvements in the park and we hope that new volunteers will come forward to help. There are tasks for all, both heavy and lighter gardening and pruning.”