Redhill's Memorial Park is to get a £1.4 million make-over.
Reigate and Banstead borough councillors have given the go-ahead for an improvement project with plans including a new cafe pavilion with toilets, moving the children’s play area to a more central location, next to the new café, and improving and expanding it, and creating a ‘sports zone’ by updating the existing sports facilities and introducing new activities.
The park's facelift is part of the council's raft of plans and schemes for the regeneration of the town.
Natalie Bramhall, borough council executive member for regeneration and property, said they hope to be able to move forward with the plans “relatively quickly,” with a completion date of summer 2014.
Coun Bramhall said: “Over the next few years, the regeneration of Redhill will lead to a number of changes in the town centre. “Memorial Park is an important green space in the town, but is under-used and is in need of updating.” She said: “We want to create a popular and contemporary urban park that offers the type of facilities that residents and people who work and shop in Redhill want. “With the majority of funding already in place, we hope to be able start the project relatively quickly.”
The make-over plans also include improving the cycle route through the park, widening and improving paths to improve accessibility, opening up the main entrance to the park at the corner of Princes Way and London Road, and improving boundaries to improve access and links to the town centre.
In addition, the scheme will also focus on “reinvigorating” the sensory garden and introducing more contemporary, lower-maintenance planting schemes which create greater biodiversity.
These could be areas of meadow, such as can be found in Priory Park in Reigate.
Adam De Save, borough council executive member for leisure, said: “There was strong public support for improvements when the council consulted on proposals in 2010. “These plans are based on what local people liked about the park and the changes they wanted to see, with a café and toilets being the top requests.”
Coun De Save said: “We will consult residents, particularly parents, school children and young people, on designs for the children’s playground and sport zone in the new year. “We are also keen to set up a Memorial Park user group, which has worked very well for Priory Park.”
Ideas for the sports zone include renovating the tennis courts and multi-use games area, and introducing new activities for young people, such as a new skate park, climbing wall and outdoor exercise equipment.
The council has said the improvements will also aim to reduce the fear of crime by improving lighting, widening paths and reducing shrubbery to provide clearer sight-lines. To reduce the environmental impact of the project, the council said sustainable construction techniques and materials will be used where they can be.
A planning application is expected to be submitted next spring and contractors appointed next summer, with a view to starting work on site next autumn. The council said it expects the project to be completed during the summer of 2014.
The park's make-over will be funded from a variety of sources, including through section 106 contributions from the Nobel House redevelopment and other Redhill developments, with additional grant funding and sponsorship where possible.
The main area of Memorial Park was bought with funds raised to commemorate those who fought in the First World War, with the smaller additional sections held in charitable trust.
The latest plans are an updated version of the 2010 proposals and reflect the results of hydraulic modelling that showed there is no longer a need for the design of the park to incorporate flood storage for the town centre, as it can be incorporated elsewhere as part of other redevelopment proposals. The council said this means the scheme can be simplified and delivered on site more quickly than was previously thought.