Work is set to start next month on restoring the historic buildings and landscape of Ipswich’s Holywells Park to their former glory.
The “Parks For People” restoration has been made possible by the award last year of a £2.8 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG). Since then, the project started with desilting of the famous ponds which gave Holywells its name. The Lottery grant will be supplemented by funding from the Borough Council and the Friends of Holywells Park.
Attention now turns to the transformation of the old Stable Block into a vibrant visitor centre, with reception, café, education space and improved public toilets.
The Orangery, for years clad by drab corrugated iron, will be refurbished into an area for exhibitions, meetings and other functions.
The work is expected to take 10 months and the Council and LDA Design and Thomas Ford & Partners have appointed R.G. Carter Ipswich Ltd as the main contractor.
Among other improvements is the creation of an outdoor theatre space for community groups and schools in the existing walled garden.
And a new toilet facility and kiosk will be provided next to the play area, helping parents who currently have to trek with their children to the Stable Block.
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Other areas of the park that will also be improved are:
park staff and volunteer facilities will be provided in the leaf yard;
entrances will be improved and made more welcoming;
new and refurbished footpaths around the park will allow greater accessibility;
new CCTV will provide greater security;
new benches and seating;
interpretation panels of the park’s heritage and environmental features;
a new wellbeing trail with appropriate equipment and a new piece of electronic play equipment for teenagers who use the park.
In addition to all this, a series of annual activities and events will be organised that will increase the number of visitors to Holywells, introducing people to the park that would not otherwise use it, help conserve and enhance the heritage of the park, and increase the number of volunteers while adding to their knowledge and skills. These events and activities will include a Holi festival, a Chopin recital, Tai Chi classes, heritage walks and family fun days.
Councillor Bryony Rudkin, the Council’s Culture portfolio-holder, said: “We are grateful for all the support we have had so far and we are looking forward to the transformation getting under way in early March. Holywells Park is a fantastic park and sometimes is not given the attention from visitors that it deserves. This project will really put it on the map and create a new attraction for visitors and the community.”