The £1 million plan

The concept

To turn Westgate Parks into a unique and very special riverside recreation area for residents and tourists – without it costing Canterbury’s council taxpayers a penny.

How? By securing a £770,000 Heritage Lottery Fund “Parks for People” grant. This will go into the Westgate Parks pot with money already donated by the developers of new housing alongside the parks.

What are Westgate Parks?

They are four different landscape character areas of recreational land beside the Great Stour river. They run from the centre of Canterbury’s busy city centre into the countryside.

Who is making it happen?

Community groups and Canterbury City Council. Business, educational, church and community organisations have formed a group called Friends of Westgate Parks. Council staff and councillors are working with the Friends’ steering group. Together they made a case for a £770,000 Heritage Lottery Fund  Parks for People grant.

The council has spent £40,000 on extending the Stour Way pedestrian/cycle path alongside the river through Toddlers Cove and the Rheims Way underpass to link with Whitehall Road. Another £80,000 has been earmarked by the council for bridge improvements in the parks.

There is also £275,000 available from contributions made by property developers under an amenity scheme known as S106.

The vision

The Westgate Parks project received a huge shot in the arm in the summer of 2013. The Heritage  Lottery Fund (HLF) approved the second stage of the application process for the £770,000 grant.

The vision set out in the initial HLF application seeks to create a better environment to enhance wildlife and the ecological development of the river and riverside area for the enjoyment of the public.

Here are the key points

Rheims Way underpass

Unwelcoming: the gloomy underpass

  • Improve the Rheims Way underpasses
  • Use the extensive history, heritage and environmental opportunities for educational, entertainment and promotional purposes
  • Manage the area to enhance the ecological development of the river, river banks and adjoining areas.
  • Improve paths, direction signs and information panels
  • Improve or replace the existing bridges
  • Create more seating
  • Enhance the river side walks and picnic spaces
Westgate Gardens
  • Keep the “formal garden” feel
  • Enhance the historic connections
  • Supply refreshments
  • Enlarge the events area
Toddlers Cove
Toddlers Cove

Criticised: the toilets at Toddlers Cove

  • Create a flagship children’s play area with landscaping and new equipment
  • Replace or improve the toilets
  • Install CCTV
  • Improve the picnic areas
  • Create an area on Tannery Field for ball games
  • Improve and extend the ‘cut grass’ paths on Bingley Island

Canterbury City Council HLF