Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) has extended its lease on Hinchingbrooke Country Park for a further 99 years, unlocking a future investment of around £3 million in enhanced facilities.
The lease has been drafted and signed, allowing the District Council to get on with the investment project in Huntingdonshire’s largest park. The investment includes additional parking, an upgraded visitor centre and cafe facilities, new enhanced play areas, pathways, and cycle routes. These site enhancements aim to increase accessibility, encourage physical activity, particularly within early years and young adult residents, as well as continuing to provide volunteering opportunities throughout the park.
In January 2019, HDC approved a £1.5 million investment subject to a new long-term lease being agreed with Cambridgeshire County Council, aimed towards enabling the much-loved country park site to become self-sustaining and an accessible open space for all in the community. Following the signing of the long-term lease, a Community Infrastructure Level (CIL) funding bid is scheduled to be considered by Cabinet in March for a further £1.5 million to supplement the project, raising the total investment in Hinchingbrooke Country Park to a potential £3 million.
Executive Leader of the Council, Cllr Ryan Fuller, said: "We are excited to get on with our investment project for Hinchingbrooke Country Park. It is such a wonderful space in our district that we are incredibly proud of, and by investing in enhancing it even further we can help to make it self-sustaining financially and more accessible to a greater number of residents and visitors.
"Now that we have managed to secure this extended lease, our ambitious investment programme can begin. We have successfully been awarded a national Love Parks award two years running, such is our commitment to our open spaces and combined efforts with residents and volunteers to celebrate them, and we have recently been successful in a biodiversity bid worth over £1.3 million highlighting our unwavering commitment to managing and protecting our natural environment."
Executive Councillor for Operations and Environment, Cllr Marge Beuttell, said: "This is a key project supporting our beautiful open spaces that are valued so highly and have been so important to us all in recent times. We are always looking to make Huntingdonshire a better place to live, while improving the health and wellbeing of residents. Hinchingbrooke Country Park provides so many opportunities to support people in their health journeys, as well as nurturing the great wildlife and habitat that we have on our doorstep.”
Hinchingbrooke Country Park has maintained the Green Flag award in recognition of excellent accessibility, community involvement, cleanliness, safety, and security since 2018 and is used by over 22,000 residents each year. The District Council’s Healthy Open Spaces Strategy established that 98% of people polled agreed that parks and open spaces make people happier.
Now that the County Council has granted the District Council an extended lease, a detailed design for the country park will be presented for planning consideration in May 2022 with works due to be completed in 2023.