A PARK that received a blooming marvellous makeover has been recognised with a national award.
The £3.6million regeneration project to transform Barnes Park, largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), has been awarded Bronze site status in the Considerate Constructors Scheme Awards 2012.
Coun James Blackburn, Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for attractive and inclusive city, said: “Barnes Park is steeped in history and has always been extremely popular, so the challenge was to improve it in a way which was in keeping with modern needs, but which was also sympathetic to the historic fabric of the park.
“The fact that the project has been awarded a prestigious national award shows that this challenge has been met head on.
“The park is now one of the most accessible in the region, and the only park in the North East which is equipped with disabled changing facilities. It has benefited from a raft of improvements, including restoration of original features such as the canon and the bandstand, as well as new play areas and a sensory garden.
“The award is fantastic recognition for everyone involved in the transformation of the park, from funding partners, architects, contractors and project officers from the city council.”
Sites and companies which register with the Considerate Constructors Scheme are monitored against a Code of Considerate Practice, designed to encourage best practice beyond statutory requirements.
Brambledown Landscapes Ltd, the contractor for the restoration works involved the Friends of Barnes Park Group and the general public throughout the project.
The company also ensured minimal disturbance to the wildlife and trees in the park and also cared for the welfare of the workforce on site.
The prestigious awards are only presented to the top performing 7.5 per cent of sites inspected by Considerate Constructors Scheme Monitors.
Ivor Crowther, head of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) North East, said: “This award is a great accolade for Barnes Park, which has been key part of the city’s heritage for more than 100 years.
“These improvements will open the park up for more people to enjoy and ensure that the park will be around for many more years to come.
“The Heritage Lottery Fund is pleased to see the hard work and dedication that’s gone into this project recognised with this important award.”
A key element of the redevelopment was to make the whole park - and particularly the play areas - accessible to all, including those who are severely disabled.
As well as specialist play equipment there is a changing/toilet pavilion fully equipped to support those caring for disabled children and adults and parking – including a number of disabled parking bays. The park covers 14 hectares and has 120,000 visitors a year.