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Historic park re-opens to public

14 March 2012

A historic Letchworth park re-opened to the public this week following a major project to restore the green space at the heart of the world’s first Garden City.  

North Herts District Council’s (NHDC) portfolio holder for leisure, Cllr Ian Knighton, met with contractors UPM Tilhill for the official handover of Howard Park in Letchworth following completion of the £2.7 million project.  Work included restoration of the adjacent Howard Gardens, re-opened late last year, with the bulk of the project funding coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.

The newly-opened features of the Park include improved play areas, modern toilets and new routes added through and around the park.  A 119-metre paddling pool, the centrepiece of the new-look park, and a kiosk serving refreshments will open in early April this year, once final testing of some of the water features has been completed.  This work will be carried out while the rest of the park is re-opened.

An event celebrating the official opening of the park has been planned for Saturday May 26.  By then, temporary fencing that will remain in place to protect new turf will have been removed.  NHDC are hoping to feature a display showing the history of the Park and Gardens, and is now asking for people to come forward with memories old and new of the area.  Anyone who wants to add recollections of how the park looked or how it was used, contact Laura Allan-Smith on 01462 474377 or email laura.smith@north-herts.gov.uk.

NHDC’s Cllr Knighton said: “This is the culmination of years of planning and months of hard work.  A big thank you must go to UPM Tilhill who have handled the project superbly, and to Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund for their support without which this would not have been possible.           

“This marks the week when the park is officially handed back to Letchworth’s residents and visitors to the historic town.   We now have an asset at the heart of the community of which we can all be really proud.  I urge people to come along and see for themselves just how good it looks!”

Peter Middleton, UPM Tilhill’s Commercial Director, said: “We are delighted and proud to have been involved in this extremely important project which will be a wonderful asset to the local community and one that they will be able to enjoy for many years to come. Everyone involved has worked extremely hard and to a very high standard. We are very pleased with the outcome.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, added:  “This is wonderful news for everyone involved in Howard Park and Gardens. Thanks to the hard work of the team who led the project, and with the support of HLF, this much loved garden can once again take its place at the heart of Letchworth Garden City so that it can be enjoyed by people from across the community for many generations to come.”