Cassiobury Park Restoration Project FAQs
When will we be able to use the pools again?
Why are you carrying out these works?
Many of the facilities in Cassiobury Park need updating if it is to be as popular and sustainable moving into the 21st century. The pools are old and declining in quality and are in need of a complete overhaul. There are concerns in relation to toilet and welfare facilities in the park as well as car parking, access and changing facilities.
How long will the works take?
The works will take place in the park over the following two years starting in autumn 2015.
How is this work being funded?
The council successfully bid for funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery; we received £500k at the development stage and then a further £4.5million to carry out the restoration. The council is also contributing up to £2million towards the project using money collected from developers who build homes in the town (formerly Section 106 payments, now Community Infrastructure Levy).
Have you consulted with local people and park users over the designs?
Watford Borough Council and the Friends of Cassiobury Park have been working together with local residents since 2011. Over 1,200 people have engaged in a range of different consultation exercises, some of which are detailed below:
• Between April and June 2013, we conducted a visitor survey (in the park and online) which 640 people completed.
• 49 schools across Watford and Hertfordshire were contacted; with six schools visited between March and May 2013
• Between July and September 2013, we exhibited the plans for the park at the Inland Waterways Festival, across the town and online with 200 surveys completed.
What benefits will this work bring to local people?
The project will enable local people who live, work and visit Watford to reconnect with their past and their local environment by creating a walk back in time – a link from town centre to countryside via Watford’s most significant historical landscape. Sounds impressive, right? Well, we will also provide additional space for educational resources and catering; space for community groups and activities; more and better toilets and changing rooms; more opportunities for volunteering; greater protection for the rich network of habitats, some of which are nationally important – such as the ancient woodland site of special scientific interest (SSSI) Whippendell Wood and the Local Nature Reserve.
What is the hub building?
The new building will provide an open, attractive, energy efficient facility for visitors to Cassiobury Park of all ages. It will be sustainably constructed and will provide improved changing facilities for the pools, sports changing rooms, a new kiosk plus upper floor café. There will also be a flexible teaching and exhibition space alongside park staff accommodation. The building is arranged on two levels; and is part buried to reduce its visual impact. It will have climbing plants grown up the walls so they become green living walls reaching up to a bio-diverse roof planted with a mix of wildflowers and grasses.
Why have the pools been closed?
The pools needed totally replacing. We understand that the pools are extremely popular, and we apologise for any inconvenience the works will cause. But please bear with us because the new pools are going to be amazing with state of the art water play using splash pads and water jets to create a more exciting and interactive range of experiences for children of all ages. We are also incorporating more natural play, greater shade and planting using a gentler colour scheme.
Why aren’t you replacing the Cassiobury Park gates?
Unfortunately, no organisations exist that are able to fund or contribute to the rebuilding of the gates which were removed over 45 years ago. The cost to rebuild the gates would stretch into the millions; and organisations such as Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and others would not allocate their funds to replace a lost building such as this. They prioritise their support for existing buildings which are at risk. They do not support the rebuilding of lost structures that would simply be a pastiche copy of the original with no clear use or purpose. However, we understand how fondly these gates are remembered. So, we are creating a new entrance to the park from Rickmansworth Road – using the surviving part of the foundations of the gates uncovered in an archaeological dig in January 2014. This historic footprint will be celebrated with new planting and paving; along with parkland estate rail fencing new signage and seating.
Will there be more toilets in the park?
Yes. There will be more, modern, robust and some sustainable toilets in the park. Sustainable - how? By utilising some amazing green technology to collect water from the roof to flush the toilets!
How will staff costs be covered?
The project staff are paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund for five years until 2019. After which a business plan has put forward a sustainable model providing events (in line with the council’s policy on events in Watford), management and education from the park
Will there be disabled access to the new hub building?
Yes. The hub building and park will be accessible and have drop off points for disabled visitors, numerous disabled toilets and inclusive facilities. There is wheelchair access from Gade Avenue and direct access to the hub can be arranged for disabled visitors.
Is there going to be any investment in the River Gade?
Yes, the project team have been guided by advice from the Environment Agency. There has been work to conserve and stabilise the watermill ruins, open up views to the mill stream, and remove three of the existing weirs to improve the passage for fish. We have also stabilised the river bank by the beloved rustic bridge
(which is also going to get some TLC with a reinstated timber balustrade).
Are you going to increase the car parking?
The existing Gade Avenue car park will be redesigned, increasing the car parking capacity by 25%. Grove Mill Lane car park will also be upgraded to include 17 additional spaces, along with new entrance signage and security measures. However, we will continue to encourage visitors to walk or use public transport to access the park.
Will the Local Nature Reserve be protected?
The project team has been working closely with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, and have drawn up a detailed management plan for the nature reserve. This will include care of our resident water voles, great crested newts, badgers and four species of bat!
What resources are being allocated to improving the natural habitat?
While the focus seems to be on the Hub building that is only a part of the works. 40% of the budget is going into landscape and habitat improvement works including Whippendell Wood, the historic Lime Avenue, Local Nature Reserve, Community Orchard and throughout the rest of the park.
Where can I find out more about the project?
- Sign up to monthly update bulletins from the council by visiting www.watford.gov.uk/signup
- You can also check our webpage for regular updates - visit www.watford.gov.uk/cassioburypark
- follow us on social media: www.facebook.com/lovewatford - www.twitter.com/watfordcouncil
- If you want to discuss any aspects of the project further please email firstname.lastname@example.org