The Lichfield Heritage Parks Project

Thirty members of the Society escaped the summer heat wave to listen to Alison Richards from the District Council talk about the Council's bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for finance to improve the city's central parks.

In 1996 the Heritage Lottery fund launched an initiative to reinvigorate the nation's public parks, after many years of under-investment. They set aside 400 million with the aim of helping to revive 200 parks. The Council's original submission included Beacon Park and associated recreation areas, the garden of Remembrance, the Cathedral Close, Minster and Stowe Pools and St. Chad's. Subsequently the Cathedral Close and St Chad's elements have been withdrawn, at the request of the Lottery Fund, to be dealt with by other methods.

Alison described the bidding process, which to many seems quite tortuous; the Council had now submitted our Stage 1 bid, outlining the proposal. The Lottery Fund has commented on this and the Council now has to submit a revised Stage 1 bid to the Funds revised 'Parks for People' program. Besides the actual proposals there's a long shopping list of items that the Council has to address, including: how to improve the park's heritage value; how to involve volunteers in the park operations; how to widen the range of park visitors and how to provide training opportunities for Lichfield's residents. If the Council passes this preliminary hurdle a detailed Stage 2 bid will be invited.

The scheme will include specific proposals for each recreation space. For instance at Beacon Park the by-pass tree screening will be improved, footpaths upgraded and toilets and play area improved. The bridge over the Leomansley Brook is also listed for an upgrade. In the Museum Gardens both Bowling Greens will be brought together to be served by new buildings and upgraded railings. The two Statues and the Martyr's Plaque will also be restored. Around Minster Pool work is needed on the Trees and the paths should be resurfaced, whilst the pool itself needs dredging. A new play area is proposed at Stowe Pool.

As to the timetable; Alison explained that the Council aim to submit the revised Stage 1 bid by March 2007 and they expect an invitation to submit a Stage 2 bid by September 2007. This would take another year to consider, so that a final go-ahead from the Lottery Fund might come in September 2008 and work could then start on the ground in the Spring of 2009. The wheels of the lottery funds grind but slowly!

Roger Hockney
July 2006