WIDE-RANGING improvements are set to be made to Victoria Park if a £2.5m heritage bid is successful.
Portsmouth City Council is set to ask for the cash from the People’s for Parks initiative run by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Councillors want to create a performance space where a bandstand used to be, restore Grade-II listed monuments, reinstate the central tree-lined avenue, and remove ‘redundant and inappropriate buildings’.
But Linda Symes, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, has insisted a consultation will be carried out with residents before changes are made.
The council has hired consultant John Winder, which won £3.1m for a scheme in Dover, and the authority has vowed to spend £250,000 of its cash on the project.
Cllr Symes said: ‘It’s really exciting, there will be a £2.5m bid.
‘With all the work going around and student halls, more activity and the fact it’s the only park that serve the people of that community, it’s really important it looks good.’
Last year major concerns were raised by residents over the Victoria Park Action Plan – with many people worried about the future of the animals in the park.
Cllr Symes said: ‘I don’t know if they will be moving or not but they will be in the park.
‘If the park becomes a more vibrant place if we do have performances, we have to protect those animals from noise.’
Councillors are set to discuss whether or not to launch a bid at a meeting next week.
Building works would development of a children’s play area, sorting out the southern path that floods and tidying up the entrances.
But Lib Dem councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson has hit out saying the money must be spent according to people’s wishes – pointing out a previous consultation was never brought to a public meeting. The News revealed leaked consultation papers showed people against moving the aviary and opening the park for 24 hours.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘You can’t do an engagement with people when you’ve ignored the previous consultation that gave the council the answer they didn’t want and then expect people to believe them and be involved.
‘You can’t treat members of the public with such contempt.
‘There’s no point throwing £2.5m at something and getting something people don’t want – that’s just a waste of taxpayers’ money.’