Layla and Eric Whitchurch

A bid for £2.5 million to improve and enhance a popular, historic park in Poole is ready for submission.

Over the last year, Borough of Poole and the Friends of Poole Park have been working hard to gather plenty of evidence to show how much Poole Park is valued by the local community. Evidence collected and proposals for future improvements and enhancements to the park will now form part of the first stage bid being submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) on 22 August

To celebrate the submission of the bid, a much-loved Poole feature made a special appearance in Poole Park on Tuesday 19 August when the public were invited to visit the wooden hippo, part of a group of mahogany animals previously displayed in the Dolphin Shopping Centre.

Located on the grass area between Rockley water sports and the war memorial, local residents were able to relive their childhood memories in a play session for children on the hippo.

John Grinnell, centre manager of the Dolphin Shopping Centre said: “For a long time we have wanted to return the wooden animals to Poole and after reviewing the possibility of reinstating the wooden animals as play sculptures for the Poole Park Life bid, Legal & General made the decision to donate the animals.

“We know how much the people of Poole cherish the heritage of the wooden animals and understand that they hold great sentimental value. Their new permanent home will be a safer play environment and can be enjoyed by children to their full extent.”

Artist, Peter Hand, made the wooden play sculptures for display in the then Arndale Centre when it opened in 1969. They became popular features as children played on them for the next 30 years.

Councillor Xena Dion, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for a Prosperous and Sustainable Poole, Borough of Poole, said: “Poole Park is a wonderful facility which everyone can enjoy and we are really excited about the plans for its future. We would like to say a huge thank you to local residents, businesses and the Friends of Poole Park for their comments and support in getting the bid to this stage.

“The Poole Park Life bid has captured the imagination of everyone in Poole. It’s great to receive additional support from the Dolphin Shopping Centre and to see the hippo once again on display. We are delighted that the hippo, along with a wooden turtle and whale, will get a new lease of life when they become permanent play sculptures in Poole Park in the autumn, creating new childhood memories for future generations to cherish.”

The bid also contains plans illustrating potential improvements which have been put together following extensive public engagement earlier this year. The potential features could include:

  • Heritage and Landscape: Restoring original features, enhancing their setting and ensuring Poole Park retains its original Victorian characteristics whilst improving the quality of the landscaping
  • Lakes and water: Improving the condition of the park lakes for people and wildlife and allowing greater public interaction with them
  • Traffic: Changing the perception of the road through Poole Park to make it a safer, more welcoming place for park users
  • Play: Improving the existing play areas and introducing a play landscape throughout the park
  • Geese and Wildfowl: Management and maintenance solutions to be explored in the round two development phase

Mike Heckford, Vice-Chaiman and Treasurer of Friends of Poole Park, said: “The Friends of Poole Park are fully behind Borough of Poole’s HLF Bid and we would like to thank everyone for their support of our ‘Back the Bid’ campaign.

“Poole Park, the People’s Park, was opened nearly 125 years ago and is a lovely place to visit, we must ensure its future for the next 125 years and a successful outcome to the bid will be a really good start.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund is a two-stage bidding process. Borough of Poole and the Friends of Poole Park will be submitting their first stage bid on 22 August. Successful bids will be announced in December and the second stage bid will take two years to be prepared, with full funding hopefully following in 2017.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Post comment