Residents are being asked for ideas on how to improve Victoria Park as part of a National Lottery funded project to revive Portsmouth’s first public park.
The ‘Reviving Victoria Park – the people’s park in Portsmouth’ project, which aims to restore and celebrate the park’s long heritage and create a more inclusive space, was awarded £251,000 development funding in December 2019. The money is being used to progress plans to apply for a full National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of more than £2 million next year.
As part of the development work, Portsmouth City Council is reaching out to communities to understand what improvements can be made make the park a more desirable space for residents.
Cllr Pitt said: “Open spaces have been so important this year during the pandemic and we want to build on this whilst protecting Victoria Park and its heritage for many future generations to enjoy.
“Practically, some of the monuments need intervention and the fountain is in disrepair so we’ll include these elements in our plan, but we are also really keen to work with the public; the people who are currently using the park or those that aren’t because of certain barriers, to know what other improvements we can make.”
Some of the ideas already being discussed include:
- Restoration of the historic design and infrastructure by Scottish landscape architect Alexander McKenzie;
- A new classroom space and educational programme to deliver learning opportunities for schools and children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities;
- An extension of the Waterfront Garden Centre project to Victoria Park;
- Upgrading the aviary for the birds and animals.
- Additional staff and increased volunteering opportunities to meet demand for supported volunteering opportunities to help overcome isolation;
- A new ‘Friends of Victoria Park’ group to champion change and ensure the sustainability of project outcomes
Landscape specialists and architects Arkwood Ltd has been appointed as design team for the project and consultation with the public is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
The plans will be developed over the next year, the detailed proposals will then be considered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund before a final decision is made on the full funding award of £2,050,800. It is expected that the second funding round will be decided by early 2022.
Jackie Collins, Community Engagement Officer at Portsmouth City Council, said: “We want the public to shape the project and really work with us to design the new plans so the park can be transformed into something that our local community wants to use and enjoy.
“There will be plenty of scope in the project to get involved in lots of different ways and make a difference. We’d love to welcome people from all walks of life into the park more and make sure it provides for the needs of all our community. We will also be inviting people to join us in a Friends of Victoria Park group.”
If you would like to share your ideas with the project team or sign up as a Friend of Victoria Park and contribute your skills and time to drive the project designs and development please email firstname.lastname@example.org.