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Watford Borough Council approves Cassiobury Park revamp plans ahead of lottery funding application
Proposals to transform Cassiobury Park with a £6.6 million makeover have been unveiled as part of a bid to win lottery funding for the project.
Watford Borough Council released designs including a refurbishment of the paddling pools, a new bandstand, plans for a new community centre, improvements to the Cha Cha Cha tea pavilion as well as a host of other works.
However the scheme also includes proposals to start charging for the currently-free Gade Avenue car park.
Last night the council’s ruling Liberal Democrat cabinet approved the plans ahead of submitting the application to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund next month.
The council hopes to win £4,534,900 form the lottery’s Parks for People programme to fund the lion’s share of the regeneration project.
One of the most eye-catching elements of the plans is for a two storey "community hub", which will provide new changing cubicles for the pool and sports events, a larger cafe and a space for exhibitions and school events.
The paddling pools will be redesigned to retain the basic three pools but with additional play fountains.
The bandstand, currently outside Watford Town Hall, will also be moved to the back of the park near the pools and be set on a grass mound rather than a stone plinth.
Cha Cha Cha is also set for a makeover under the scheme with a refurbishment and the restoration of its garden area with a new paved veranda and drinking fountain.
The lottery bid also includes plans to improve the entrances with the Rickmansworth Road one due for new landscaping, trees and granite setts and a theme linking it to the historic Cassiobury Park gates.
Other entrances will have new paving and a "bespoke obelisk".
The scheme includes proposals to rebuild the water wheel on the River Gade at the site of the old Mill House and there will be upgrades for the paths around the park.
At last night’s meeting Elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill lauded the designs describing them as "fabulous". She also highlighted the "softer" elements to the projects such as a meditation area and a community garden that she said would enhance the park.
Under the scheme the council also mooted plans for a £150,000 refurbishment of the Gade Avenue car park but also introducing parking charges.
A report to the cabinet said a flat £2 charge could generate around £70,000 a year.
Labour leader Nigel Bell described the designs for the park as "fantastic" but queried the plans to start charging for the Gade Avenue car park.
Mayor Thornhill said the council wanted to deter commuters using the car park.
She said the council had also looked at the possibility of charging for the paddling pools, but "firmly ruled out that idea".
The mayor added: "If you come to the park and pay for parking but everything else is free it is a good day out for a few quid."
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