Derry's Brooke Park set for a £4.4m facelift

Mon, 17/10/2011 - 13:42 -- Editor

Derry's Brooke Park could be in line for a £4.4m makeover.

Derry City Council has lodged a full planning application for the regeneration of the city centre area which will see a total overhaul of the park inclusive of parkland, sports and leisure facilities.

Classic features such as the gate lodge, railings, historic entrances and Robert Ferguson Statue will be refurbished. It is also proposed to reinstate the much loved oval pond.

The park’s soft landscaping will be returned to its former glory through extensive planting in keeping with the historic nature and character of a Victorian Park. Surrounding walls, paths and street furniture will also be improved with the main avenues lit for enhanced use and safety.

At the heart of the park, on the site of the former Gwyn’s Institute, the plans include the development of a contemporary Gwyn’s Pavilion. This will be a family friendly facility providing refreshments and toilet facilities to cater for park users and visitors needs, whilst enjoying the wonderful panoramic views of the City Walls.

Adjoining the Pavilion, a state-of the art Play Garden will be developed to the highest standard. This is somewhat fitting given that this site was historically used as the children’s play space when Gwyn’s Institute was an orphanage.

Sports facilities within the park will be dramatically enhanced. The existing shale pitches will be remodelled into an Outdoor Events Area/Grass Pitch and the Bowling Pavilion will be enhanced to accommodate extended play in bad weather and evenings.

The ‘Sparta Hut’ will be demolished and replaced with a modern two story Contact Sports Centre (CSC) catering for sports such as Boxing, Weightlifting, Jujitsu, Karate and Footballconditioning. This facility will have an associated shared meeting room, toilets/changing facilities and leisure attendant’s office.

The disused tennis courts and the underused basket-ball courts will be redeveloped into a new state-of the art floodlit 3G facility.

A new Horticulture Training Centre (HTC) will be developed on site within the walled garden. This centre will accommodate both Council Grounds Maintenance Staff and Conservation Volunteers (NI). An adjoining Outdoor Growing Area will provide volunteer training opportunities to adults and young people using Brooke Park. It is also planned that local schools will be actively engaged in building new audiences for our heritage and environment using the park as an outdoor classroom.

The plans will be displayed in the Brooke Park Leisure Centre for residents convenience. Council approved the regeneration plans and budget at a Special Council Meeting in March 2011, following extensive engagement with statutory agencies, funders, stakeholders, park users and non-users. The Stage 2 Heritage Lottery Fund application has also been submitted to support the £4.4m regeneration package.

John Kelpie, DCC Strategic Director said that the council intend to display the Regeneration Plans in Brooke Park Leisure Centre over the forthcoming month so that residents can view these designswithin their local community and give feedback to Council Officers.

"The regeneration proposals are extensive and will make the park more user friendly," he said. "Planned works will transform this important green space in keeping with the historical character of the park and will include the restoration of old and creation of new features.”

Ongoing maintenance and management of the park will be supported through an increased revenue contribution from Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is planned to employ additional staff such as the Brooke Park Officer and a Horticulturalist to ensure that Brooke Park secures and retains a Green Flag Award as part of the 10 year Management & Maintenance Plan.

Several small events areas will also be developed supported by a complimentary programme of activities to build new audiences for the park once regenerated.

Plans also include the delivery a five year programme of activities and events to build new audiences for the park and to establish a new Brooke Park Forum which will bring stakeholders together to ensure their future participation in the management, maintenance and animation of Brooke Park for the use and enjoyment of all.