Victoria Park

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.

Agreement brings money to Victoria Park

The Section 106 Agreement for the North Travis Perkins site in Victoria Crescent, signed last week, includes a contribution of £ 21,514 for the ‘Victoria Park Improvement Project’. This will be added to contributions of £ 270,002 from the Powergen site development, £ 150,000 from the Victoria Way development.

In addition to in excess of £ 440,000 from Section 106 contributions, the results of an application by Ashford Borough Council (ABC) to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for Parks for People funding are expected by the end of this month. Although there are, as yet, no confirmed detailed plans, ABC 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. from the HLF funding.

The Section 106 Contributions will be used for other elements of the Victoria Park and Watercress Fields Masterplan adopted by ABC’s Cabinet on 10 March 2016. (more…)

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

The Victoria Park and Watercress Fields Masterplan was adopted by ABC’s Cabinet on 10 March 2016


Our Parks Matter video

Action is needed to avert a crisis that will undermine more than two decades of investment in the UK’s public parks, according to a new Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) report.

Thanks to National Lottery players, our parks are in great shape. With the Big Lottery Fund, HLF have invested over £ 850 million in more than 800 of the UK’s public parks, improving facilities, renovating historic features and making them more popular than ever.

But according to our new State of UK Public Parks 2016 report, there is a growing deficit between the rising use of parks and the declining resources available to manage them.

Two years on from the first report into the state of UK parks, the downward trend in condition and maintenance we predicted in 2014 looks set to continue and many of our precious parks and green spaces face an uncertain future. (more…)

Bowens Field Bridges

Important message for those coming to Create on foot

Please note that one of the footbridges in Bowens Field (no.2 on the left of the plan below) has had to be closed for urgent repair.

Boens Field Bridge

With Create coming up on Saturday, accessing Victoria Park from Beaver Road, access is still available through the footpath/cycle path in Bowens Field via the entrance into Godfrey Walk (marked no.1 on the right of the plan).

You can also walk through Bowens Field housing estate via the footways.

Ashford Borough Council 20 July 2016


Sculpture Trail installed

A Young Peoples Sculpture Trail Sculpture Trail has been installed in Victoria Park in readiness for the official unveiling at Create Music Festival ( ➚) on Saturday. Ashford Borough Council commissioned artist Martin Brockman of Outdoor Studios ( ➚) to create the sculptures with children from Ashford Oaks and St. Simon’s Primary Schools and Victoria Park Nursery. Martin Brockman will have a stand in the new Love Ashford Zone at Create and will be giving out maps, info and leading tours of the trail.

The trail has been funded by a Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ grant ➚.

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.


Line-up for Create Festival 2016

Create Tree LogoThe line-up for Create Music Festival’s 21st Birthday has been announced, although the headliners are still being kept under wraps!

On Saturday 23rd July, Victoria Park will once again host one of the South East’s biggest free music festivals, and has lined up a packed programme of music indulgence with over 40 local, talented bands, acts, solo performers, choirs and DJ’s performing across the day.

The Create Main Stage, sponsored by Ashford College, includes popular local favourites Riskee & The Ridicule, Old Town Souls and Slam Cartel, all supported by Ashford College Music Technology students working behind the scenes.

The brand new Fountain Stage sponsored by Right Track Music will once again showcase a whole host of up and coming musicians that emerge from the school, as well as community groups, choirs and young local talent.

Ashford’s premier music and arts venue, Revelation St Mary’s, has programmed an eclectic mix of singer-songwriters, and young folk and indie acts.

Fans will have noticed that announcements are yet to be made for the legendary Create DJ stage, but can rest assured that an awesome line up will be laying down the very best of house, EDM and club anthems.

Following on from last year’s memorable performance from Adam Ant, the festival is still keeping all the headline acts of each stage close to its chest, but has teased all music fans that they are in for an equally impressive, musical treat for this year! (more…)

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.

Victoria Park Masterplan

Victoria ParkFollowing the presentation by Chris Dixon at the South Ashford Community Forum September 2016 Meeting, Chris with other officers and consultants employed by Ashford Borough Council have produced a Draft Masterplan for the development of Victoria Park. The Draft Masterplan will go before ABC’s Cabinet on 10th March for adoption.

The first part of the proposals that will be developed is based on the heritage of the Park, focused on the Hubert Fountain. A Heritage Lottery Fund bid is planned to finance this part of the work. The first stage of the bid will be submitted this month, to fund Development of the heritage proposals. If the bid is successful, the Development Phase is expected to take a year to complete, after which a further bid will be made to fund Delivery (implementation) of the Proposals. The Delivery is expected to take 15 – 18 months from March 2018, completing between July and September 2019. (more…)