January 7, 2015, by Emma Thorne
Successful funding bid to improve Highfields Park
For decades students, staff and local residents have messed about in boats on it and in bygone winters have even used it as a skating rink. Now one of the University’s most iconic features is to be restored to its former glory thanks to a successful bid for lottery cash.
The Highfields Park lake will be de-silted and improvements made to the waterside boating area as part of a wider £3.2 million development project to transform this historic area of campus.
The funding for the project has been awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund’s Parks for People programme. Nottingham City Council, which is the sole trustee of the site’s managers the Highfields Leisure Park Trust, and other funding partners have also contributed an additional £1.3 million. It comes following a five-year development journey which has included two rounds of public consultation with park users and project partners including the University, the Environment Agency and the Highfield Park User Group.
The University has pledged its full support for the project and will provide more than £350,000 in financial support for the project and contribute to site maintenance and an events programme.
Andrew Nolan, Sustainability Director in the Estates Office, said: “The University is delighted the Heritage Lottery Bid prepared in partnership with Nottingham City Council has been successful. The investment will make a real difference to Highfields Park, restoring and enhancing its wonderful features, including the lake itself. It further enhances the significant investments made on University Park, including our facilities at Lakeside. Alongside the development of the tram route along University Boulevard this will be a truly transformational project which will make the University an even more attractive place to visit, study and work.”
The Probation Service will contribute to the on-site improvement works and an additional £500,000 funding will come from the Highfields Park Leisure Trust.
In addition to the improvements made to the lake, the restoration work — which will be completed by the end of summer 2016 — will include:
- Restoring buildings, park infrastructure and horticultural landscape, including heritage features including historic walls, bridges and the old Boating Lake Ticket Office
- Creating a new adventure golf area
- Improving putting greens
- Creating new croquet lawns from the existing bowling greens
- A dedicated Park Ranger to work at Highfields Park
- New bespoke railings and gates around the existing children’s play area and extended play area lawn and sitting out area, with plans to incorporate decorative themes designed in collaboration with the local community such as artists and schools
Hilary Silvester, Chair of the Highfields Park User Group which represents the many and varied groups which use the park, said: “Highfields is very much loved by the people of Nottingham, and its on-going restoration and improvement are important to one of the city’s most outstanding and varied open spaces.”
The Grade II* listed park which contains prehistoric rock shelters built into the Nottingham Castle Rock outcrop is registered as a site of Special Geological Interest. It is also included in English Heritage’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. When it was opened by Sir Jesse Boot in 1923, the park was one of the first man-made, large-scale public parks of the 20th Century and was given “for the purpose of public recreation and pleasure grounds for the people of the City of Nottingham forever.”