Plans to restore 'unkempt' country park in early stages of discussion
A 'unkempt' country park could be restored under new plans.
Bucks County Council wants to revamp Thorney Country Park, in Iver, saying it is not well-used and is “generally unkempt”.
The cash-strapped council, which looks after the park, formerly a landfill site, said in an online report: “The county council finds itself in an extremely challenging financial situation.
“Buckinghamshire is one of the first two counties, along with Dorset, to lose all central government funding (Revenue Support Grant) from the end of this financial year.
“At the same time the growth in costs for children’s services, support for elderly adults and the need to provide new school places is squeezing the funding of all other services.
“It was therefore decided some years ago that the country parks could no longer be subsidised but would have to break even and cover their running and investment costs.
“The current usage of Thorney Park is very low and sporadic compared to the other parks and the council lacks the money required to adequately maintain it.”
It said other options, including the parish council taking over the site, had been considered in the past but did not materialise, adding that the county council is “faced with the dilemma of how to best improve the park and make it accessible to more local residents in view of the resource constraints”.
If given the green light, the council would landscape the site to create a “self-sustaining public amenity/leisure facility”. The site could potentially be developed into a playing field or a community park with modern facilities.
Commenting on the early discussions that have taken place about the restoration, cabinet member for resources John Chilver said his aim was to develop restoration options for the Park that were commercially beneficial, but that also provided improvements and long-term benefits to Iver residents of all ages.
He added: “'The cabinet and I are clear on what we want to see developed, as we set out in our decision earlier in the year.
“We are also aware of potential demand for the site from others including Heathrow.
“Our decision focused on the potential benefits of a restoration. This included the opportunity to generate much needed extra income for the council and its services, the chance to ensure the site is both restored and improved for the enjoyment of future generations and to make sure local people can be fully engaged in all aspects as plans progress.
“As part of my responsibilities, I have a duty to make sure all council assets are used effectively and where possible can provide valuable new income streams.
“This means continuing with the status quo at Thorney Park was simply not an option and I hope local residents can understand the reasons.
“In saying that, I want to provide reassurance to local people that we are fully committed to working together to get a scheme that works for everyone.
“We are at the very early stages of seeing what is possible and the new Community Forum, which met for the first time recently, is an important part of making sure this happens.
“Obviously, absolutely nothing has been agreed and we need open and frank dialogue to test, evaluate and assess possible options.
“However, from the council’s perspective, I can state that any restoration plan will need to demonstrate how it will improve the site and retain a lake facility.”
But Iver Parish Council said in a social media post that at the Community Forum meeting held on November 26, contractors revealed their intention to backfill the lake entirely despite assurances from Martin Tett and other members of BCC that the proposals would include the restoration of the lake to “more modest depths” with landscaping at the shoreline “to allow for amenity activities such as boating and lacustrine habitats”.
The council added that the matter would be taken back to BCC for review and, depending on the outcome of that review, another consultation meeting could be held in around six weeks' time.
Bucks Free Press
Hillingdon & Uxbridge Times
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