YEOVIL Country Park saw funders, councillors, Country Park volunteers and rangers gather together at a ceremonial cutting of the turf for building work to start on the park’s new centre.
The building will provide a café and education/meeting room, public toilets and a work base for volunteers and rangers. Construction (by Melhuish & Saunders) is to start immediately with completion scheduled for the autumn.
The Centre is integral to a wider Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) project in the park, named V3 for InVolve, Visit, Volunteer.
V3 will provide for the three-year appointment of a Community Ranger to work from the Centre, running activities and events for the public, local groups and schools.
There will be a three-year activity and event programme, new interpretation materials and conservation projects in the Country Park for wildlife, habitats and restoration of the Valley Gardens.
The bid for HLF funding for the entire V3 project is now in the development stage (see Notes for Editor below), leading to a final application to HLF early in 2015.
Reaching this stage has been dependent on first securing funding for the Centre building and has been achieved through the generous support of a wide range of organisations and individuals.
These include The Veolia Environmental Trust, who awarded £90,000 through the Landfill Communities Fund; EDF Energy Green Fund; Well Being of Yeovil; Yeovil Town Council; AgustaWestland; Friends of Yeovil Country Park; Wessex Water; Abbey Manor Charitable Trust; Waitrose Foundation; Old Mill Accountancy; JH Meech & Son; and public donations.
Councillor Sylvia Seal, SSDC Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “This is a great day for Yeovil Country Park and we are grateful for the support of the funders who have done so much to help us with this vital first stage of the journey to improve facilities and services in the park.
“Yeovil Country Park is an essential part of the character and spirit of the town, treasured and enjoyed by the local community and by visitors from far and wide. The new Education Centre and – longer-term - the whole V3 Project, will greatly extend the choices on offer to people for activities and exploration in this wonderful green space.”
The Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, Paul Taylor, added, “It’s great that this exciting project is now underway and I look forward to seeing the new Centre open and in use.”
A public event to open the new Centre will be held later in 2014. Information about this – and updates on progress with the construction work – will appear on www.southsomersetcountryside.com