£2m Lottery funding bid for Verulamium Park is turned down

PUBLISHED: 14:25 14 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:39 06 May 2010

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A BID for £2 million Lottery funding to make changes to Verulamium Park in St Albans has been turned down. A masterplan for the park had been drawn up by a 13-partner Verulamium Heritage Park Steering Committee with the help of a £50,000 grant from the He

A BID for £2 million Lottery funding to make changes to Verulamium Park in St Albans has been turned down.

A masterplan for the park had been drawn up by a 13-partner Verulamium Heritage Park Steering Committee with the help of a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

But the HLF has refused the grant because it questions the masterplan's ability to "improve the heritage of the park".

Now St Albans District Council, which had allocated £250,000 in its budget for 2008-2010 towards the project, will review the masterplan. The council also intends to make a fresh bid to the HLF next year.

The rejected masterplan was drawn up after public consultation in which more than 1,100 questionnaires were completed.

The key aims were to restore and enhance the main features of the park such as the lakes, the Roman heritage and the River Ver and to include a new area in the centre of Verulamium for events.

There were also plans to add new children's play facilities and a refreshment kiosk, improved toilets additional jogging paths, a wildlife visitor centre and a zone for teenagers which would include an internet zone and a climbing wall.

However some of the proposals drew some criticism, particularly those for the lake.

Following the rejection of the bid, Cllr Sheila Burton, the council's portfolio holder for sport and healthy living, said: "This is disappointing news but I am hopeful that we can satisfy the requirements of the HLF. I will be looking to clarify the situation in a meeting with the HLF as soon as possible."

Cllr Robert Donald, the council leader and steering group chair, said: "This is a very frustrating decision which may have been to do with the current national economic downturn than to any demerits of the St Albans' case. The bid was formulated by experienced consultants who have successfully obtained such grants elsewhere before.

"The brief was widened from the original concerns of improving the River Ver and the lakes, to include an holistic strategy for the development of the park's heritage, recreational use, educational interpretation and visitor access for the 21st century. I am anticipating that following a meeting of the HLF we will have a better understanding of how we can meet their requirements. I remain committed to seeing how we can still deliver the improvements set out in the master plan and will not give up trying to achieve these."

The review of the masterplan will involve evaluating the different projects and proposals to see how these can still all be achieved whether or not a HLF grant is obtained in 2009. Other ways of funding specific projects will also need to be identified if HLF funding is not secured next year.

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