Historic grounds restoration

Italian garden, South Hill Park, Bracknell, Credit - Stewart Turkington, 25 July 2013

South Hill Park has been restored back to its original glory thanks to a £2.3 million grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund. Bracknell Forest Council bid for the funding in 2008, working jointly with Bracknell Town Council, and South Hill Park Arts Centre Trust. Over the course of four years, the park has been vastly improved for the benefit of the public and wildlife. Restored original features include a Yew Walk and Italian Garden. The total cost of this ambitious project amounts to £4.4 million, which pays for works on-site and then 10 years of ongoing maintenance.

The project can be split into two phases of development:

Stage one of the project started in 2008 when Bracknell Forest Council’s Parks and Countryside Service was awarded £209,000 design and development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund’s Parks for People programme. Following on from previous consultation, the council worked with residents and park users to finalise proposals to improve the popular park greatly before making the more detailed bid for further grant funding.

In stage two of this project, landscape architects Chris Blandford Associates were appointed to produce detailed designs and administer the landscape contract works. Design work was completed and planning approval was obtained in summer 2010. Work on site started in September 2010. Major work undertaken by landscape contractor Gavin Jones included restoring the terrace garden, Italian Garden, Yew Walk, improving disabled access, desilting the southern lake, a revamped play area, new waymarked paths and access points and a more welcoming entrance from the main car park. Smaller projects have included wildlife habitat improvements, and improving the amphitheatre. Information for visitors around the park is also to be upgraded.

Protecting wildlife

The following measures have been carried out, as part of a wildlife protection plan to protect and enhance the wildlife at South Hill Park:

  • wildflower seeding to increase meadow areas
  • non-native plants such as rhododendron and cherry laurel removed from the woodland understorey
  • 112 new large trees planted

Art and design commission

Public artists were commissioned to produce a new sculpture, an entrance sign, a new distinctive logo for the park, welcome signs and waymarkers for the walks and trails.

PDF file downloadFour walking trails (PDF, 6543kb)

Involving the community

Restoration workshops for the local community, schools and volunteer groups, have taken place on-site, as well as guided walks and talks. Workshops allowed the local community to get involved and learn more about the restoration work in the park and surrounding landscape.

Friends of South Hill Park Grounds

This group of local residents works alongside the Parks and Countryside Service to help improve the park for all. If you want to join or have a greater say in what goes on in your local park contact using the details on this page.

Conservation management plan

A summary document of this plan is available which includes information on the history of the site, current issues and future options for the park. The council appointed Land Management Services Ltd (LMS) who are chartered landscape architects, to prepare the plan and carry out the consultation, which provided the basis of the stage one grant bid.

The conservation management plan will form the basis of a new ten-year management and maintenance plan for the completed park in 2012, which will guide management objectives and maintenance programmes.

PDF file downloadConservation management plan (PDF, 1329kb)

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