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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 07:13 GMT
Facelift planned for historic park
Belle Vue Park, Newport, south Wales
Belle Vue Park is one of the most important in the UK
An historic Victorian park in south Wales is to be restored with a 2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The money is being granted for work on Belle Vue Park in Newport, under the fund's Urban Parks Programme.

Danger sign at Belle Vue Park
The buildings have suffered over the years

It is the only public park to have been designed by the landscape architect Thomas Mawson.

Newport Council says a five-year restoration programme will begin in the summer, as part of plans to regenerate the Stow Hill area of the town.

The Grade II listed park was laid out on land given to the local council by Lord Tredegar in 1892.

Its creator, Thomas Mawson, was the most prolific British garden designer of his day, responsible for the private gardens at Dyffryn House in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Children on scooters at Belle Vue Park, Newport
The council wants to boost visitor numbers

Despite suffering from vandalism and decay, Belle Vue still attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year, including 20 school trips.

Many of the park's features and structures have been individually listed, but some have fallen into disrepair over the years.

The council has drawn up a five-year restoration plan to return the park to an appearance more in keeping with Mawson's original ideas.

Several important features will be conserved, restored and reinstated.

Closed toilets at Belle Vue Park, Newport
Facilities like toilets are out of bounds

A key goal is to recreate, as closely as possible, the original Edwardian planting scheme, including a lime avenue.

Other more recent and inappropriate additions will be replaced.

A park manager will be appointed to foster links with local community groups and schools.

The council also plans to provide information for visitors within the park's historic pavilion building.

Kim Biddlecombe, Senior Grants Officer with the Heritage Lottery Fund, praised the council's proposal.

Bandstand at Belle Vue Park, Newport
Many important features survive

"Belle Vue is a truly extraordinary public open space with historic and beautiful features and planting.

"The council's proposals to restore the park will preserve the history of this unique green space and secure its future for generations to come."

In August 2001, a report revealed that Britain's historic parks needed 3.5bn of investment to restore them to their former glory.

The Policy Studies Institute claimed there had been a dramatic decline, with fewer than one in five parks in good condition.

The survey found that more than half of all the bandstands, fountains and paddling pools, had been lost to public use, as well as a quarter of amenities such as toilets and shelters.

See also:

23 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Neglected parks 'need 3.5bn'
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