Work begins on improvements to Hoole's Alexandra Park

14 January 2020

Work has started on the much-anticipated project to improve Alexandra Park in Chester.

Residents of Hoole will see work begin at the park this week to relocate and rehouse essential utilities such as electric and water, followed by demolition of the Veterans’ Hut.

It will be the first stage of a six month-long period of work to make improvements to the park, which will complete in Summer 2020. 
Other improvements include:
  • a refurbishment of the pedestrian pathways
  • landscape improvements to flower and shrub borders with proposed pollinator planting
  • improvements to the existing toilet block to include baby changing facilities and disabled toilet, subject to final planning approval 
  • installation of pollinator ‘Bug Hotel’ public art sculptures, interpretation and bespoke seating, created in collaboration with the local community.
Councillor Karen Shore, Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: “A public consultation in 2018 involving schools and the local community identified the main areas and elements where we can improve the park. 

“We have sought funding to make these changes and are now in a position to start work on making these much needed improvements.  
“Alexandra Park is one of the city’s most prestigious heritage parks and it is great news that work can begin to transform it for the whole community. We plan to complete the work by this summer and residents will be able to use the park throughout this phased period of work.”

Commissioned artist Katayoun Dowlatshahi has been visiting primary schools in Hoole in recent weeks to work with the pupils and help them learn more about pollinators, work which will help inform and inspire new art sculptures for the park.  

Katayoun said: “It is such a pleasure to be commissioned as an artist to work on a scheme that engages all the senses and enables me to share my enthusiasm and passion for nature with a younger generation and anyone who cares to listen.  

“Alexandra Park pollinator scheme, with the inclusion of an insect habitat trail, is such a positive investment into the environment and the local community of Hoole. 

“Mind sets are changing.  People are finally beginning to recognise the importance and necessity of supporting our precious wildlife, which includes a wide range of pollinators from the invisible to the after dark visitors. 

“I have already begun my work by engaging some of the many local primary schools to create giant slugs and centipedes out of willow and bees and bugs with wire. My hope is that the habitat trail will engage children and adults alike, to be stimulating and educational.”

One of the Hoole schools Katayoun visited was St Martin’s Academy. Its headteacher Wenda Smith said: “We are thrilled to be a part of this initiative working with Katayoun and our neighbouring primary schools in Hoole. Alexandra Park is a special place and plays an important part in our local community. This latest project will have significant conservation and environmental benefits and will bring to life the learning that is happening in our classrooms. Children understand more about the threats to the environment than ever before and are empowered by the idea that they can make a difference in their local area. We are looking forward to welcoming the bugs, beetles and bats to their new homes.” 

Landscape contractor Blue Wigwam has been appointed to carry out the improvement work to the footpaths and shrub and flower borders. A spokesperson at Blue Wigwam said: “We are extremely pleased to have been chosen as a Chester based company to work on one of our own city’s parks. Many of our employees and their families grew up playing in Alexandra Park with our base less than a mile away in Hoole Village, we feel very honoured to be able to enhance the site with these landscape improvements for the community.’’

Planning permission has been submitted for improvements to the existing toilet block to reflect its original character and is awaiting approval.

Conservation specialist Recclesia has been appointed to carry out this work and a conservation and heritage consultant at Recclesia said:
“Being part of this local project is a privilege and we hope our sensitive adaptation scheme to the existing WC facilities will be testament to that, helping the community better enjoy and access their much loved park whilst preserving the built heritage for generations to come.” 
The park’s six tennis courts will be upgraded and resurfaced as part of the programme of work.

Residents are invited to a public drop in session on 24 January at Hoole Community Centre, Westminster Road, Hoole, from 3.30pm-6.30pm to share their views and to contribute ideas for the art installation.

Children at St Martin's Academy, Hoole, take part in the art workshop 

A child at St Martin's Academy, Hoole, works on the art project 

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