Heritage

HLF Funding for Victoria Park

Hubert FountainA bid by Ashford Borough Council (ABC) has led to the award of £ 167,000, as the first stage of a proposal for £ 3.2 million, from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund England’s Parks for People programme. The funds will be used toward the development stage of the Council’s Victoria Park and Watercess Fields Masterplan.

Chris Dixon,  Arts and Cultural Industry Manager at ABC, commented to South Ashford Community Forum, when the application was submitted, “The priority for the programme is to conserve the existing heritage of the designated park, intending to make a significant difference to heritage, people and communities in the area. It is a two stage application process. The first stage is to develop a more detailed second round proposal. We are at the very earliest point, with no confirmed detailed plans, but have an ambition to:

  • refurbish the Hubert fountain and piazza;
  • reintroduce or recognise lost cultural and natural heritage elements;
  • provide a volunteers compound and other community facilities; and
  • put in place a range of community events and activities including a new ‘Friends Group’ etc.

The award follows the signing of a number of Section 106 agreements that allocate nearly £ 470,000, due to be paid on occupation of local developments.

Ashford Heritage Strategy

Ashford Borough Council

Opens: 07 July 2017
Closes: 31 August 2017

Ashford Borough is home to an extraordinarily rich and significant stock of heritage assets which provide important and wide-ranging evidence of the rural history of this country and its tapestry of rural settlements. The Borough’s heritage is extensive too, with more listed buildings than any other in Kent, and with more grade 1 and II* listed buildings than other districts also.

This Heritage Strategy describes the rich history of Ashford Borough and its broad wealth of heritage assets. In doing so it responds to, and is compliant with the requirement for a ‘positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment’ promoted by the NPPF. It sets out how the historic environment can play an important role in delivering regeneration in the Borough, particularly supporting the objectives of the Local Plan for the regeneration of Ashford Town Centre, and the role of heritage in growing the tourism offer of the Borough. Having regard to the Government’s localism agenda, the Strategy promotes an agenda of further understanding and engagement with the historic environment, where the public play a leading role in delivering the outcomes of the strategy and shaping where they live, work and visit.

The borough’s attractive natural environment, including two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the successful Ashford Green Corridors initiative are widely recognised. However, the historic environment is equally one of the Borough’s most valuable assets, and one which can and should play an important role in its future development.

Have your Say

The Council is inviting you to have your say on the Ashford Heritage Strategy from Friday 7th July 2017 until midnight on the 31st August 2017.

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Parks face threat of decline with severe consequences

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee report on public parks warns that parks are at a tipping point and face a period of decline with potentially severe consequences unless their vital contribution to areas such as public health, community integration and climate change mitigation is recognised.

Councils should publish strategic plans

The Public parks report highlights considerable challenges for the sector including reduced council spending, with parks management budgets cut by up to 97 per cent, the need for parks to compete with other services for funding, and planning policy not giving them enough weight, particularly as a result of pressures to increase housing supply.

The Committee call on councils to publish strategic plans, which recognise the value of parks beyond leisure and recreation and set out how they will be managed to maximise their contribution to wider local authority agendas, such as promoting healthy lifestyles, tackling social exclusion and managing flood risk. It is hoped these plans will open up parks to support and funding beyond their usual budgets and service areas.

Ashford Borough Council (ABC) has included improvement to parks and open space in its corporate plan
www.ashford.gov.uk/the-five-year-corporate-plan-for-aspiration-action-and-achievement-2015-2020

The Victoria Park and Watercress Fields Masterplan was adopted by ABC’s Cabinet on 10 March 2016 
https://southashford.org.uk/index.php/2016/03/04/victoria-park-masterplan/
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Future of public parks inquiry launched

Victoria ParkThe Communities and Local Government Committee launches an inquiry into public parks to examine the impact of reduced local authority budgets on these open spaces and consider concerns that their existence is under threat.

Public parks inquiry

The Committee looks at how parks should be supported now and in the future. This includes studying alternative management and funding models, such as a mutual or a trust.

Send a written submission

The Committee invites submission of written evidence to its website on the following issues:

  • Who uses parks and open spaces, how often and for what
  • The contribution of parks to the health and well-being of communities
  • The impact of reductions in local authority budgets on parks
  • What the administrative status of parks should be in light of declining local authority resources for non-statutory services
  • How new and existing parks can best be supported
  • What additional or alternative funding is available and what scope is there for local authorities to generate revenue from park users
  • What the advantages and disadvantages are of other management models, such as privatisation, outsourcing or mutualisation

The Committee would be grateful to receive written submissions by 30 September 2016. (more…)

Launch of Ashford’s Heritage Trail

Heritage Trail MapA brand new, exciting trail highlighting Ashford Town Centre’s heritage sites will be launched on Sunday 5th June, in conjunction with Ashford Farmers’ Market.

The Heritage Trail takes visitors on a journey through history as they discover many of Ashford’s significant sites. Visitors can see the beautiful Edwardian architecture in North Street, Victoria Park’s Grade II* listed Hubert Fountain and much more.

Three tours will take place on the day led by Blue Badge guides at 10.30am, 11.30am and 12.30pm. The meeting point will be on the Lower High Street at the Heritage Trail stand.

Starting from the High Street, the tour will meander through the Town and finish at Ashford Borough Museum. The walk takes approximately half an hour, is free to enjoy and is suitable for all ages. (more…)

Hubert Fountain gains II* listing

Hubert FountainThe Hubert Fountain in Victoria Park has had its designation upgraded to II* by Historic England.

The listing describes the fountain as “an ornamental cast iron fountain cast by the French foundry of the Val d’Osne, the largest art cast iron maker in France, first displayed at the 1862 International Exhibition in Kensington, then situated in the grounds of Olantigh Towers, Wye but moved to Victoria Park Ashford in 1912, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

  • Design Quality: a monumental art cast iron fountain of three tiers with figures of cupids, atlantes and caryatids based on antique and classic models in the Ecole des Beaux Arts style, cast by a foundry which acquired a worldwide reputation for such fountains and described in the 1862 International Exhibition catalogue as ‘a fine monumental work’ and ‘of exquisite design and perfect form’;
  • Rarity: the finest of only three examples of listed cast iron ornamental fountains in England, one of only three surviving listed ornamental fountains in the country displayed at C19 International exhibitions, and the only listed ornamental fountain in England cast by a French foundry;
  • Comparators: comparable with the Ross Fountain in Edinburgh (listed Grade A), also exhibited at the 1862 Exhibition, the Hubert Fountain was considered in 1862 as the finer of the two fountains although the Ross Fountain now has stronger group value; Degree of survival: little altered.

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Forum responds to Park Masterplan

Kentish Express 17 March 2016

Kentish Express
17 March 2016

South Ashford Community Forum are pleased that Ashford Borough Council’s Cabinet have recognised the importance of Victoria Park and Watercress Fields to the residents of Ashford and that the planned development in the area creates both the need and the opportunity to provide investment into the Park.

Some residents have expressed concern that the proposals might cause a loss of open space in the park but we believe that this results from misunderstanding of what is intended. It is important for people to understand that the Masterplan is Draft and constitutes outline proposals that will be subject to consultation. Detailed proposals will be developed from the Masterplan and implementation is dependent on the availability of funding from grants and contributions from developers, of sites such as the Powergen and Jemmett Road Campus. The timetable given in some of the information being circulated is the outline programme for Fountain Zone work, not the implementation of the whole plan. Even these proposals are subject to two successful bids to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We look forward to working with the Council in development of the proposals and will continue to provide updates at our meetings and via our website and facebook page.

Young People’s Sculpture Trail for Victoria Park

Victoria Park avenue and Hubert FountainFunding to create a new Young People’s Sculpture Trail in Victoria Park has been granted to Ashford Borough Council by Tesco as part of the Tesco Bags of Help Grant Scheme.

In a bid to engage young people and families in the natural heritage of Victoria Park, officers from the council proposed creating an exciting new sculpture trail in the heart of the borough. The outdoor trail will take people on a journey of discovery, telling stories of the park’s past, and encouraging learning and engagement in green spaces management.

The sculptures will be created by local young people with the help of artists and craftsman, through school workshops, youth groups and open drop in sessions. Youngsters will learn woodland craft skills and create a sculpture trail across the park and Watercress Fields. (more…)

How well do you know Ashford?

Kent County CouncilCelebrate National Libraries Day with Ashford Library by taking part in their Ashford Streets quiz, using photographs from their local studies collection.

See how many streets you can correctly name from the photographs – all correct quiz sheets will be entered into a prize draw. Why not also try our quiz on how well you know your library?

Saturday 6th February 2016 – 10.00am to 4.00pm

Improved service for people who need community equipment

Ashford CCGAshford Clinical Commissioning Group and the other clinical commissioning groups in Kent have been working with Kent County Council to improve services for people who need community equipment to live independently at home.

After a procurement led by Kent County Council Nottingham Rehab Limited (trading as NRS Healthcare) have been appointed to deliver a countywide Integrated Community Equipment Service from 30 November 2015.

NRS Healthcare provides equipment such as hospital beds, pressure care equipment, walking frames and other things that older people and disabled people of all ages need to live independently in their own homes. It also provides Telehealth services in Kent. (more…)