Regeneration of Hermitage Park gets underway with turf-cutting event

Argyll and Bute CouncilA successful turf-cutting event has signalled the start of construction work to regenerate Hermitage Park in Helensburgh.

The event was attended by representatives of the community, funders, local councillors and officers associated with the £3.3 million restoration and redevelopment of the urban park with the ceremonial first piece of turf was cut by Chris Packard, former Chairman of the Friends of Hermitage Park Association.

Specialist landscape contractors, Hawthorn Heights, have been awarded the £1.6 million contract for the landscaping and conservation phase of the ambitious project.

The company bring an in-house playground expert and experienced water and fountain specialists to help deliver the regeneration of the park. They will be using local contractors to undertake much of the work.

Helensburgh-based Councillor Ellen Morton, depute leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “There is no doubt that Hermitage Park will be a showcase public space when the regeneration is complete.

“The ceremony is a real milestone in this exciting regeneration project and we are extremely grateful to the funders and all those, such as our partners from the Friends of Hermitage Park Association, who have worked tirelessly to make it become a reality. It is so pleasing to see all that hard work coming to fruition with construction getting underway. This has been a real partnership project between the council and the local community.”

Fiona Barker, Chair of Friends of Hermitage Park Association, added: “The Friends of Hermitage Park Association was formed in 2010 with the objective of restoring and rejuvenating Hermitage Park. It has been a long road to reach this point. We are absolutely delighted to be here today with our partners Argyll and Bute Council and our funders to mark the start of the building work. We look forward to our park being a jewel in Helensburgh’s crown once more.”

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “What better way for Helensburgh to start the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, than with this exciting milestone. As a key partner in this celebratory year, we are delighted to see work begin on the park’s transformation. Thanks to players of the National Lottery, Hermitage Park has a bright future, encouraging people back through its gates to take pride in the history of their green space and use the new up-to-date facilities. We look forward to seeing it develop.”

The regeneration of the park is set to cost £3.3m. £2.3m has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery, Parks for People fund.

Other funders include Sustrans, the Armed Forces Covenant Fund and the Friends of Hermitage Park. Argyll and Bute Council has contributed £280,000.

The council and the Friends of Hermitage Park Association formed a delivery steering group to support the heritage-led regeneration of the park. The group provides direction, information and guidance to ensure the success of the project. Helensburgh Community Council and the Ministry of Defence are also represented on the group.

Initial works include the demolition of the toilet block, the Japanese shelter and the conservation work to the war memorial.

The park will remain open throughout the works with only the areas being redeveloped being closed safety reasons. An interpretation point will be set up to allow people to access and monitor progress.

Activities will take place throughout the building period to encourage people to engage with and play a part in the redevelopment of the park.

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