History of Priory Park is under microscope

THE future of Chichester’s historic Priory Park is now coming under scrutiny by the city and district councils.

They have declared they are working together to look at ways in which it can be improved.

“The park is popular with tourists and locals, and we will be working with the city council to make sure that it continues to attract people to the area in the future,” said Eileen Lintill, district cabinet member for leisure and wellbeing.

“The city council has told us it would like to manage Priory Park in the future. It has formed a localism group which will be considering this and looking at the costs and practicalities involved. We welcome this initiative and are currently in discussions with the council to see how we can take this forward.”

The city council had also agreed some resources to assist in future development of a master plan for the park.

“The existing master plan will need to be refreshed and re-prioritised, and we are happy to work in partnership with the city council to conduct this review and consult with the community,” Cllr Lintill added. “We will also work with the city council to see what funding is available, such as Heritage Lottery Funding or Sports England Inspired Facility Funding.”

Richard Plowman, chairman of the city council’s finance committee, said: “We are pleased to be working closely with the district council to ensure that the future for Priory Park meets the needs of all users, but remaining an important oasis of green space in the city.

“It is therefore important that investment and momentum for Priory Park is maintained.”

Structural engineers have recently been appointed by CDC to look at two areas of the park for improvements. They will assess the repair requirements for the historic wall and hospitium structure in the park, and are also developing a stabilisation scheme for its motte.

Motte improvement works will be subject to English Heritage and conservation area consent and a further report will be bought to the district council’s cabinet after this.

This follows £315,000 worth of recent improvements to the park including the refurbishment of the Guildhall and a new play area. Many of the projects were delivered in partnership with Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery Fund, SITA landfill tax, and developer contributions under planning agreements.