Heritage Lottery Fund Project

Work on this £6 million restoration project started in 2012 and was finally drawn to a close in December 2019.   The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Watford Council,  has resulted in the construction of the new Hub building, improvements to the Cha cafe and the return of a restored bandstand.  Some funds were also allocated to improve biodiversity and habitat improvement in the Local Nature Reserve and this is still on-going.

Some historic detail is retained below.

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FULL AWARD ANNOUNCED  07 July 2014

Cassiobury Park secures £4.5million of Lottery funding for major restoration

Watford Borough Council has received a grant of £4,542,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund for Cassiobury Park it was announced today.

Cassiobury Park The news has been welcomed by Elected Mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill: “We worked hard on the bid for external funding as we know Cassiobury Park is a much loved park. These are exciting plans that will see Cassiobury Park up there among the very best in the country.”Added to the council’s financial commitment, the overall £6.6million project to improve and restore Cassiobury Park includes:

  • a new sustainable park hub building with café, community and exhibition room, education facilities, toilets and changing facilities
  • extending and improving the Cha Cha Cha tea pavilion
  • revamped and improved pools
  • returning the historic bandstand to the park
  • improved entrances to the park
  • improved management of Whippendell Wood and the Local Nature Reserve
  • restoration of the historic 18th century Lime Avenue
  • providing an on site park manager, community park ranger and education officer.

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill added: “We now have the opportunity to make a real difference to restore much of this historic landscape and improve the facilities. The new park hub building will be a real focus for park activities, as well as providing an opportunity for visitors to discover the rich history of the park.

“I want to thank all the residents and local groups that helped shape our proposals, and also the small team at the council who have worked hard to get this external funding. This is fantastic news for Watford, benefiting local people and future generations.”

Back in June 2012, the council was successful in bidding for £418,600 of Round 1 funding from HLF/BIG to develop plans for the final Round 2 funding bid. Since then park visitors, local residents and Cassiobury Park Friends Group have been asked their views on possible designs for the park and have played a vital role in helping to shape the final approved proposals. The Round 2 submission from Watford Borough Council was submitted in February 2014.

This new Round 2 grant is part of a wider investment of £34.5million of Lottery money to 13 parks across the UK being announced today by HLF and Big Lottery Fund. This new funding follows the publication of the HLF’s recent report (26 June) which revealed the UK’s public parks are at serious risk of decline unless innovative new ways of funding and maintaining them are found.

Alongside restoration of important historic features including bandstands and gatehouses, and the installation of new community facilities, this new funding will also deliver a range of activities designed to help parks across the UK to be more sustainable.

Two decades of public and Lottery investment has ensured that the majority of UK parks are in better condition. However, the State of UK Public Parks 2014: Renaissance to Risk? Report has revealed they are now at serious risk of rapid decline and even being sold off and lost to the public forever.

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said on behalf of HLF and the Big Lottery Fund: “Our report revealed how valued public parks are by people and communities and how essential they are to our physical and emotional well-being. That’s why HLF and the Big Lottery fund have invested over £700million in parks since 1996. But the report makes clear that our parks face an uncertain future and so it’s exciting to see how this new investment is going some way towards helping parks like Cassiobury Park find new ways of funding and maintaining them so they are still here to be enjoyed long into the future.”

Cassiobury Park is the most significant and most popular green space in Watford, and twice the size of London’s Hyde Park, forming part of a wide network of green spaces stretching from Watford town centre west towards the wider countryside. It is a landscape of significant historical interest comprising part of the former Cassiobury Estate, significantly researched by Watford Museum over many years and soon to be captured in a new book called ‘Cassiobury – The Ancient Seat of the Earl’s of Essex’ out in October 2014.

Cassiobury Park has won and retained Green Flag awards for a number of years. In recent years, the historic park was voted the nation’s third favourite park in the People’s Choice Award public poll.

Over 2.1 million visits are made to the park each year from local residents and from people outside the area.

For more information on the park, visit: www.watford.gov.uk/cassioburypark

UPDATE 23 May 2013

At the Family Fun Day in the Park on Sat 18th May,  we saw for the first time the initial designs of the HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) project for the ‘Gate’ area, Chachacha’s and a new ‘Hub’ building.   Comments received from Friends on the Hub buidling were summarised and sent to the project office as follows:

“Overall we support the  need for a new hub building and the proposed location. However, we have some  serious concerns over the current plans, namely: 1) The building at the  moment seems too intrusive in the space that has been allotted for  it. 2) The height of the roof/solar panels needs to be lower/shaped  better to minimise the visual impact of the building. 3) There should  be limited or no parking allocated inside the building.  We are  concerned about increased traffic and the use of valuable floor space in what  needs to be a building with the minimum necessary  footprint. 4) If the education centre is used to host evening  activities this may result in the need for a lit path from Langley Way. Evening  activities already take place at Cha Cha Cha and this is a better place for them  in terms of light and access. “

We hope that the next round of plans will be modified in the light  of the points we have raised and we will monitor developments closely to  ensure we have great new facilities in the park without damaging the natural  beauty.
The design boards will be on display as follows:
Thurs 23 May:    Market
Friday 24 May:   Museum
Sat 25 May – Sun 2 June:  Cha Cha Cha
Do go and have a look if you get the chance
or register comments by contacting Matt at matt.hill@watford.gov.uk
and fill out a general park survey form at www.cfpuk.co.uk/cassioburypark/

UPDATE – 11 FEB 2013

1) Matthew Hill has been appointed as Project Officer for Cassiobury Park and will be starting in mid Feb. He has managed a number of HLF projects having been employed by LB Newham.

2) Debbie Brady is the new Community Park Ranger for Cassiobury Park and started on 8 Feb 13. She has been a Countryside Ranger for both the Forestry Commission and Severn Trent.

4) WBC have appointed Land Use Consultants http://www.landuse.co.uk/ as the main consultants for the development stage as well as implementation (subject to successful Round 2 application);

5) WBC have also appointed Community First Partnership to deliver the Activity Planning and Business Planning stages http://www.cfpuk.co.uk/index.html

Round 2 submission now needs to be developed and designed in detail to submit by Feb 2014.

UPDATE – 31 JAN 2013

In June 2012, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) confirmed that Watford Council had been successful in obtaining a Round 1 pass and had secured a development grant of £418,600 towards delivering the next stage. In total, £608,604 is currently available towards developing a Round 2 application as well as to appoint a Project Officer and Community Park Ranger with a project total of £6.5 million.

Progress throughout late 2012 included the procurement of a large multi-disciplinary consultancy to deliver all aspects of this very diverse project including project management, landscape architecture, archaeology, architecture, ecology, energy and sustainability, hydrology, engineering and cost consultancy. Final tenders were received on 7th Jan 13. Tenders have also been sought for the Activity and Business Planning work and both contractors will be appointed in Jan/Feb 2013.

Two posts have also been advertised as part of the development (Round 2) stage: a Project Officer and a Community Park Ranger. Interviews were held in mid-January. The next stage and timescales are:

  1. Appointment of the Project Officer, Park Ranger and consultancy team in Jan /Feb 13.
  2. The project team will progress all requirements associated with the Round 2 Stage, which will include significant consultation, detailed design and further historical and ecological research for submission in February 2014.
  3. Possible final award in June 2014. Delivery stage is anticipated to start towards the end of 2014.

Note: On 1 Feb 13 FoCP are waiting to hear the outcome of these appointments.

More detail on the Jan 13 position can be found in the Report of the Head of Community Services prepared for the 21 Jan 13 Cabinet meeting of the Watford Borough Council.

Chair of Friends of Cassiobury Park, John Cox adds:

”The Friends of Cassiobury Park are delighted that the council has been successful in its initial quest for lottery funding as this is a wonderful opportunity to restore and preserve aspects of the park. We look forward to being part of future consultations regarding the specific plans and will work to ensure that the nature and environment of the park will remain protected.”

UPDATE – 2 JUL 2012

Plans for a £6m plus revamp of Cassiobury Park have now moved a step closer. The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Lottery Fund have given initial support to proposals drawn up by Watford Borough Council. This means the council can take its bid to the next stage of the application process.

Development funding of £418,600 has also been awarded to help the council apply for the full lottery grant. A number of other worthy causes are also vying for funding from the same pot of lottery cash. If successful, the lottery money will fund a £6.6m project to rejuvenate the historic park.

UPDATE – 01 MAR 2012

Watford Council submitted the Stage One application for Cassiobiury Park to the Heritage Lottery Fund by the deadline of the 28th February. The Council is seeking almost £5 million from the HLF, with a further £1m of resources to come from local sources (some of this as time and effort). The timetable going foward is expected to be:

  • June 2012 – response from HLF announcing whether successful and granting provisional award;
  • Stage 2 developed from June onwards. This will include the detail of the scheme and will involve working up of the outline proposals;
  • Stage 2 submitted in February 2013;
  • Response from HLF in August 2013 and final approval;
  • September 2013 – procurement and final designs;
  • January 2014 – work commences.

Throughout Stage 2 there will be considerable Watford wide consultation. Please see WBC Parks and Open Spaces Section for details, including the Conservation Statement and the Mayor’s Supporting Document or email paul.rabbitts@watford.gov.uk

BACKGROUND

Watford’s best loved park and one of Britain’s favourite parks could well be subject to a major £ 6 million plus restoration if a bid from Watford Borough Council to the Heritage Lottery Fund is successful.

The park is immensely popular with Watford residents and the many visitors who come from afar to visit it especially during the summer months. The pools and Cha Cha Cha are especially popular and it is estimated that up to 1 million visitors pass through the park a year!

However, many of the park’s facilities need updating if it is to be as popular moving into the 21st century. The pools are old and declining in quality and are in need of a complete overhaul. There are concerns in relation to toilet and welfare facilities in the park as well as car parking, access and changing facilities. At the same time, the park needs to be refreshed taking into account its long term sustainability and future use but with heritage at its heart.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has funded over £600 million worth of restoration works to public parks across the UK since its inception.

Proposals include a new park “Hub” or “Centre” on a totally revamped pools centre which will include catering facilities, park rangers office, changing facilities, toilets, visitor centre and education/ community room. From here, the park ranger service will manage the park with an education officer working with local schools to develop outreach work in the park and Whippendell Wood.

Proposals are also planned for the modernisation of Cha Cha Cha and improvements to its surrounds and the entrance from Shepherds Road. At the same time, improvements are planned from Rickmansworth Road with the creation of an entrance space and feature. One of the most interesting restoration proposals is the reintroduction into the park of the bandstand which was removed and re-erected and now sits rather forlornly outside the Town Hall.