PLANS to transform Staunton Country Park in Havant have been revealed as part of a programme to improve Hampshire County Council’s five country parks.
Visitor centres, cafes and play equipment will be improved with an investment of £5.7m from the county council, which could attract £7.6m in external funding.
Full details of plans to transform the parks, which include Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield, were revealed at Councillor Andrew Gibson’s recent decision day as executive member for culture, recreation and countryside.
Cllr Gibson said: ‘Our country parks are much loved and popular, but visitor expectations have changed over the past 30 years with greater competition from other sites and attractions.
‘This investment is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Staunton and Queen Elizabeth Country Parks to improve visitor facilities, making more of their natural and historical features, and helping them become more financially self sustaining.’
Staunton Country Park’s 200-year-old Regency landscapes will be restored and visitor facilities improved as part of planned £4.7m programme ahead of Staunton’s bicentenary in 2019.
The majority of the work at the 193 hectare site will be focussed on the historic parkland to the north of the farm attraction.
Works will include restoration of the Grade II registered landscape, conservation of historic follies and buildings, transformation of the Victorian Coach House into a visitor centre including a café, and a venue for on-site vocational training with Highbury College and other partners such as the Beacon Community Partnership.
The play equipment and paths at the farm attraction have already been improved, and there are further plans to redesign the existing café.
A funding commitment of £1.4m from Hampshire County Council could help attract match funding of around £2.9m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG) and £350,000 from Highbury College. If the external funding is secured, work is likely to start in July 2017, with the final elements completed in March 2019.