Progress made towards £2m redevelopment of Hermitage Park

The view from above - an aerial picture of Hermitage Park, courtesy of Helensburgh Heritage Trust.
The view from above – an aerial picture of Hermitage Park, courtesy of Helensburgh Heritage Trust.

The £2m project to redevelop Helensburgh’s Hermitage Park is making progress, with a development officer being recruited and tenders returned.

In early January Argyll and Bute Council, working with the Friends of Hermitage Park, received confirmation from the Heritage Lottery fund that their bid for a grant of up to £2,087,000 to regenerate Argyll and Bute’s only urban park had received first round approval.

This first round approval includes a grant of £169,700 to carry out the development phase of the project.

Ready for a new look - the park at present
Ready for a new look – the park at present

This initial grant will pay for the development of a whole park plan which will include proposals for the A-listed monument and memorial gardens, investigative works to deal with the problems of flooding and erosion and a community consultation process.

Ultimately the aim of the project is to restore the park’s heritage, carry out major repair work and reconfigure the recreational space.

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

Melissa Simpson has now been recruited as project development officer for Hermitage Park – she works as a gardens and design landscape adviser for the National Trust for Scotland and is on a 12 month sabbatical from the trust to the council to take the project through the development phase.

Melissa’s role with the trust involves providing technical horticultural advice, ensuring that any work carried out in the trust’s gardens maintains the historical integrity and assisting with garden maintenance and conservation.

She covers a wide area – advising at some of the most historically significant garden’s within the trust’s portfolio including Culzean Castle, Newhailes and Pitmedden.

The council says that involvement of the local community is vital to the success of the project, so as a first step it is contacting organisations who currently use the park to establish a user group, ensuring that all potential users have a say in how the park is developed.

To date the user group has the following representatives:

  • The Friends of Hermitage Park Association
  • Transition Helensburgh
  • PSSP (Play-park group)
  • SOS Fitness
  • Helensburgh Bowling Club

If you represent a user group and would like to be included email melissa.simpson@argyll-bute.gov.uk

As well as the user group there will be a series of public consultation events, allowing as many people as possible a chance to have their say in how the park is redeveloped.

The council has received responses to its tendering process for consultants to work with the steering group in taking the project through the development phase – producing a conservation management plan and a masterplan.

The appointment of consultants will be announced ‘in the near future’.

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