Anger over plans to ‘reinvigorate’ gardens

The fountain in the Falkland Gardens, Gosport
The fountain in the Falkland Gardens, Gosport
Haslar Barracks

Council seeks views on bid to create Haslar conservation site

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CONCERNS have been raised over plans to regenerate a garden that commemorates the Falklands War.

Gosport Borough Council is holding a consultation about its plans to modernise the Falkland Gardens, near the bus station in the town centre.

However, residents have written to object, saying they want the gardens to remain an area of quiet reflection where memorial services can be held, especially ahead of the 35th anniversary of the Falklands War next year.

Council leader Mark Hook said the design would be the first phase of redeveloping the area, ahead of work on the bus station, and that it would be ‘sensitively done’ with work not due to start until after May next year.

Former Gosport residents Barbara and Alfred Steel, who have long connections with the town, say they are upset about the proposals.

They lived in Gosport for more than 70 years and their family has a memorial stone in the gardens for Alf and Joyce Taylor, Alfred’s uncle and aunt.

Barbara, 77, said: ‘We have been to all the memorial services held there. It is very special to us. It is a desecration to even think about taking away the gardens where you can sit and enjoy the view.

‘You don’t have to put a play area into a park. It would be sacrilege. Can you imagine when there are memorials happening and there are children shrieking and screaming? We don’t want that. I feel very strongly about it.’

Barbara, a retired civil servant who worked at Clarence Yard, Priddy’s Hard and Portsmouth Dockyard, has a picture of her husband on her wall taken in the gardens in 1934 when Alfred, 82, worked for Camper & Nicholson.

Barbara, who now lives in Portchester, added: ‘Gosport should be proud of what it has got.’

Cllr Hook said: ‘One thing we are quite clear on is that we will not be moving any memorial stones, the bust or the mosaic.

‘There will still be seating for people. What we are trying to do is reinvigorate the gardens. We want to attract people and make them more vibrant.’

The gardens have been part of the town since the 1920s and were named the Falkland Gardens in 1984.

The council’s plans include a coastal garden, curved seating for small events, a timber deck with a sculpture display, water-jet fountains, timber play areas and feature walls with seating.

To comment, e-mail falklandgardencomments@gosport.gov.uk by Friday, August 5.