Water Gardens to get £3.4m restoration as council vows to make Hemel proud

An artists's impression (above) of how Water Gardens (below inset), Hemel Hempstead, will look after its �3.4million restoration. And below how the play area will look
An artists's impression (above) of how Water Gardens (below inset), Hemel Hempstead, will look after its �3.4million restoration. And below how the play area will look

Council lands Lottery funding which will help get historic area back to its ‘full glory’.

Dacorum Borough Council has received a grant of £2.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund for the Jellicoe Water Gardens it has been announced today.

The project will deliver:

• a restored flower garden (opposite Bank Court) with colourful planting inspired by the original scheme designed by Susan Jellicoe;

• a new and exciting play area, specially designed for the Gardens with features’ based on Geoffrey Jellicoe’s serpent theme;

• widened terrace and restored lime avenue, with space for a coffee kiosk and seating overlooking the play area and flower displays;

• a growing area with raised beds and picnic tables, where horticultural sessions will be held for volunteers to pick up gardening tips and help care for the Gardens;

• a striking new community building to provide facilities for Friends, volunteers, school groups and learning organisations to get involved in maintenance and environmental tasks;

• enhancements to the river to improve water quality and create a better environment for fish;

• access improvements to make it easier for everyone to enjoy all of the Gardens;

• new lighting to highlight the Gardens’ features and provide safe routes to the car parks;

• new interpretation boards to explain the Gardens’ history, and the plants and wildlife that can be discovered.

Councillor Andrew Williams, leader of Dacorum Borough Council, said the authority will also add a further £1million to the pot to make Water Gardens an ‘outstanding public space and source of pride to local residents’.

He said: “Our historic Water Gardens are an important part of the story of Hemel Hempstead, so it is fantastic that with this grant we will be able to restore the Gardens to their full glory. This is a marvellous opportunity for Hemel Hempstead that, together with our exciting plans to transform the town centre, I’m positive will make the people of Dacorum proud.”

The detailed designs of the restoration project will now be prepared, with works expected to start in Spring 2015 and last for approximately one year.

Claire Richardson, chair of Friends of the Water Gardens, said it is fantastic news.

She said: “Friends of the Jellicoe Water Gardens have worked closely over the last year and a half with Dacorum Borough Council supporting the different stages of the bid. We, the Friends are delighted with the outcome and welcome more Friends to join our Group to get involved at this exciting time.”

The grant is part of a wider investment of £34.5million of Lottery money to 13 parks across the UK. It follows the publication of HLF’s recent report State of UK Public Parks 2014: Renaissance to Risk? in June.

This revealed that two decades of public and Lottery investment has ensured that the majority of UK parks are in better condition but are at serious risk of decline unless innovative new ways of funding and maintaining them are found.

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 £700m 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 Hemel Water Gardens to find new ways of funding and maintaining them so they are still here to be enjoyed long into the future.”

The restoration project is part of Dacorum Borough Council’s £30m regeneration project to make Hemel Hempstead Town Centre, from the plough roundabout through to the Old Town, a busy, more vibrant place that more people want to live, work and visit. Find out more on the council’s website