Plans to transform Staunton Country Park in Havant and Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield have been revealed as part of a programme to improve Hampshire County Council’s five country parks.
Visitor centres, cafes and play equipment will be improved with an investment of £8.7m from the County Council, which could attract £7.6m in external funding.
Full details of plans to transform Staunton and Queen Elizabeth Country Parks were revealed at Councillor Andrew Gibson’s recent Decision Day as Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside.
Councillor Gibson said: “Our country parks are much loved and popular, but visitor expectations have changed over the past 30 years with greater competition from other sites and attractions. This investment is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Staunton and Queen Elizabeth Country Parks to improve visitor facilities, making more of their natural and historical features, and helping them become more financially self sustaining.”
Staunton Country Park’s 200-year-old Regency landscapes will be restored and visitor facilities improved as part of planned £4.7m programme ahead of Staunton’s bicentenary in 2019.
The majority of the work at the 193 hectare site will be focussed on the historic parkland to the north of the farm attraction. Works will include restoration of the Grade II* registered landscape, conservation of historic follies and buildings, transformation of the Victorian Coach House into a visitor centre including a café, and a venue for on-site vocational training with Highbury College and other partners such as the Beacon Community Partnership.
The play equipment and paths at the farm attraction have already been improved, and there are further plans to redesign the existing café.
A funding commitment of £1.4m from Hampshire County Council could help attract match funding of around £2.9m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG) and £350,000 from Highbury College. If the external funding is secured, work is likely to start in July 2017, with the final elements completed in March 2019.
Queen Elizabeth Country Park’s visitor centre will be transformed as part of a planned £3m programme of improvements at the 766-hectare site. The visitor centre will include a bigger café, more welcoming entrance, outdoor sheltered area and space for tourism based businesses; that will all contribute to the park’s income generation.
New play features will also be developed as part of the Forts and Fleets project which will develop a new fitness assault course, a dog agility trail and community space – part-funded by £163,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant Grant Scheme.
A multi-use learning space for groups and private hire will also be developed.
A funding commitment of £1.75m from Hampshire County Council could help attract match funding of £850,000 from the Enterprise M3 LEP Local Growth Fund. The South Downs National Park Authority is also eager to support and work with the County Council to transform the country park as a hub and a gateway into the National Park.
The decision to procure, spend and enter into the necessary contractual arrangements for the transformation of Staunton and Queen Elizabeth Country Parks is due to be considered by the Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, at his Policy and Resources Decision Day on 9 November 2016.