North East Connected

Visitors vote Hardwick Park into Keep Britain Tidy’s top 20 green spaces

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.10.44Visitors have named a County Durham park as one of their favourite green spaces in Britain.

Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag Awards saw more than 1,500 outdoor areas nominated across the UK.

But when it came to the People’s Choice, only one North East park – Durham County Council’s Hardwick Park in Sedgefield – made it into the top 20.

Cllr Maria Plews, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning, said: “To be the only North East park to feature so highly is absolutely fantastic and is a true testament to, not only the hard work which has gone into the park, but the affection people feel for it.”

The recognition for the 18th Century Grade II* listed Hardwick Park comes after an £8m, restoration of the site – supported by Durham County Council and a £5m Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Originally a pleasure garden for Hardwick Hall owner John Burdon, leading architect James Paine’s design features classic and gothic style structures – including the striking Temple of Minerva – set around two lakes.

More recently the park’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers have welcomed thousands of visitors for a range of activities, including arts and crafts, storytelling and trail walks, the Muddy Mayhem obstacle run, and birthday parties in its Mongolian-style yurt.

It has also provided a broad programme of sessions for schools, including everything from pond dipping to maths challenges, bushcraft and survival skills, to help literacy and numeracy, science, art, history, geography and physical education.

For the second year in a row, Tower Hamlet’s Victoria Park was voted as the nation’s favourite, with Margam Park in Neath Port Talbot, South Wales, in second and Maidstone’s Mote Park in third.

“To be voted 19th nationally is amazing,” Cllr Plews said. “Thank you to everyone who voted.”

Hardwick Park is one of nine major parks under Durham County Council management and one of 14 green spaces in the county to have received Green Flag awards recognising their high standards of maintenance and involvement of local communities.

Work is also is also well underway on the £3m restoration of Wharton Park, which is expected to open next spring.

Plans for the restoration of the park include a heritage centre, cafe, new play areas and improvements to the park’s amphitheatre, miniature car track, footpaths, signs and main entrances

It is being paid for thanks to £2.45m from the Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery funds, and money from the Durham Area Action Partnership.

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