Parks for People Project
Parks for People is a joint Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund programme which aims to protect and enhance historic parks, helping to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy these important public open spaces (www.hlf.org.uk).
Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens are the most significant heritage parks in the Dover district. Russell Gardens is Grade II listed, whilst Kearsney Abbey contains many Grade II listed features and is the most popular public park in the district. Both parks are highly valued by the community.
Given their age, and high use, some aspects of the parks heritage are at risk. This includes some built heritage, but also the lack of appreciation and understanding of the park's history and their links with Dover's industrial heritage.
The aim of the Parks for People project at Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens is to ensure that this heritage is protected, and that people have more opportunities to visit and be involved with the parks and learn about their history.
The restoration of Russell Gardens will be a major focus of the project. Originally built as a grand country house and estate, known as Kearsney Court, Russell Gardens became a public park in 1951. The park is Grade II listed. The project in Russell Gardens will involve restoring a rare example of Edwardian garden design by the renowned Edwardian landscape architect, Thomas Mawson, and promoting it as an attraction.
Like its neighbour, Kearsney Abbey was originally a grand country house and estate built in 1820-22 by local banker and merchant, John Minet Fector (1754-1821). The Grade II listed café is all that remains of the original house, but the rich mix of heritage, specimen trees, ornamental lakes, and open parkland make it one of the most popular public parks in East Kent. The project in Kearsney Abbey will involve extending the cafe to create a multi-use venue with facilities to support volunteering, training and education and improving park infrastructure.
In addition to the built heritage of the individual parks, the project will also involve developing a wide range of activities across both parks.
We want even more people to enjoy the parks and to appreciate their unique heritage. By improving the range of activities on offer, a wider range of people will have opportunities to learn about the heritage, flora and fauna of the parks.
We're keen that the community are more involved in how we look after the parks. If you would like to get involved in the Kearsney Parks Forum to help shape decisions about the parks, contribute to maintenance or help other people engage with the heritage of the parks please get in touch.
We want to improve sustainable travel and access to, between, and within the parks. This will involve promoting greater access to the parks for pedestrians, cyclists, and those using public transport, improving pedestrian connectivity with the train station at Kearsney, traffic calming measures and increased car parking.
Our Parks for People project will make the parks more sustainable. They will be better managed, better protected, and with the facilities to bring new audiences to the parks to generate increased revenue for reinvestment. We're aiming to achieve a 'Green Flag' for the parks by 2018.