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Park project gets £49K to transform Woodhatch

The Woodhatch community's dream is about to come true.

After years of planning work can now begin on turning its park into a village green for the 21st century.

The Countryside Agency had been holding a £49,000 grant for the project, but could not release it until the borough council agreed a final set of requirements relating to the lease of the land.

The agreement came last week and there is now a feeling of "elation" among members of the Woodhatch Park Project committee who cannot wait to get their hands on the spade and fork and start work.

Linda Cope has worked hard at turning the vision into a reality. She said: "This means we can put a spade into the ground. I started work six years ago and there have been various things along the way which have taken time to get sorted, but this was the final hurdle."

The Countryside Agency grant came with a list of requirements which had to be fulfilled before it could let the Woodhatch Park Project have its money. Most were agreed by the borough council in May, but two further requirements were put forward in the last few weeks and agreed at a meeting of the executive committee last Thursday.

Linda added: "Within the project group itself there is a feeling of elation. Not a lot of the outside world know the news at the moment, but we are keen to share the excitement. People have said about the project that will never happen', but it goes to show just what you can overcome."

At the end of the summer contractors will begin phase one of the project, costing in the region of £100,000, by building a footpath through the park with low level lighting. The sensory garden and meet-and-greet shelter will also be completed. Work on the second phase, the children's play area, is expected to begin next spring.

In 1999 when the borough council was approached by the Woodhatch Park Project it agreed to give £15,000 to the project. Since then the council has also agreed to hand over the management of the land to the project.

But the construction of the park is just the beginning. As the land will become the responsibility of the community, once it is completed it will need to be maintained and the park committee is looking to residents and local organisations for their help.

On Saturday the project will host a fun day from 2pm to 5pm on Woodhatch Green with a range of games, stalls and exhibits relating to the project.

Plans and scale models will be on show to give people a chance to learn a bit more about the project and to join in. Everyone is welcome.

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