Argyll and Bute Council’s Hermitage Park project has received another boost with £250,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund.
Part of the council ambitious £3million project to restore and redevelop Argyll and Bute’s only urban park, the armed forces money will go towards the improvement of the leisure area and the installation of a new multi-use pavilion.
Councillor Maurice Corry, Armed Forces Champion, welcomed the news: “We have done a lot of research to help us develop the project in the right way, a way which will provide the best fit for all users. This work has shown, quite clearly, that more people will use the park when there is shelter, toilets and activities for youngsters.
“This was a particular wish of the military families we consulted. They told us that a lack of any current facilities was a major barrier to them using the park as it is just now. This is something the money will go towards addressing, providing fabulous modern facilities for community use.
“Some very simple changes will make a big difference – many forces families walk to the park but then leave because there is nowhere for them to sit while their children play. We’ll change that, and we’ll install covered buggy stands and activity spaces which will be particularly well used during the school holidays.
“The maximum grant is usually £125,000; we’ve achieved double that and are absolutely delighted. This is another example of the council and the MoD working in partnership to deliver what we all want – a sustainable economic future Argyll and Bute. This project is a wonderful initiative and we are supremely confident that this, combined with all the council’s other developments in and around Helensburgh, will really improve the area and make it an even more attractive place for people to live.”
Chris Packard, Chair of the Friends of Hermitage Park, said: “The Friends of Hermitage Park are absolutely delighted with the news that the Armed Forces Covenant Fund has awarded £250,000 towards the regeneration of Hermitage Park. The money will help cement the relationship between Helensburgh and Royal Navy personnel and their families. Hermitage Park is a park for everyone and there will be a strong focus in its regeneration on the needs of children and young people and their parents. Be it play, recreation or learning about horticulture and bird/animal life in the new development garden and throughout the park generally.”
The masterplan, developed through extensive public consultation, includes:
- Play zones aimed at older children which can be monitored by parents
- Fountain plaza and a hard standing multi-use events space
- A mini-games area suitable for learning to cycle and walking football
- A pavilion with a café, toilets, a community room, an information hub and covered buggy stands
- A community garden in which people can grow food and access advice and support on gardening
The new covenant fund was launched in June 2015, demonstrating the Government’s long-term commitment to supporting schemes under the Armed Forces Covenant.
Fifty-nine small grants totalling almost £1m were awarded in late 2015 and a further 93 small bids worth £1.46m and 24 larger bids exceeding £7.4m have now been announced. Community integration projects involve civilian and military communities working together and increase understanding between them.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The new fund strategically targets areas of need. Every year, this £10m will go towards worthy projects that fully promote the principles of the covenant."