A SMART and fit-for-use bandstand and an improved drainage system are among the plans of a voluntary group intent on sprucing up Leamington’s ‘village green’.
The Friends of the Pump Room Gardens - which this year oversaw the restoration of the Linden Arches in the park - has been given the go-ahead by Warwick District Council, which manages the space, to move forward with fulfilling members’ visions for its future.
Group chairman Archie Pitts said: “All we have to do is cross the road into Jephson Gardens to see what can be achieved.”
But he added: “The gardens are the ‘village green’ of the town, where youngsters go to play football and sit with friends, so we are not aiming to turn them into a Victorian flower garden.
“They are also very valued for summer festivals such as the Peace Festival, Food and Drink Festival and Mela and the farmers’ market every month – all of which are so successful. We expect and hope that all these and perhaps others too will continue to play their part.”
As well as tackling the problem of waterlogging in the park and improving the appearance of York Bridge, the group wants to replant missing lime trees near Linden Avenue, resurface the paths running through the gardens and create a wildflower meadow along the riverbank.
But it is the idea of restoring the bandstand that Mr Pitts says has driven the project.
He said: “We did a survey last year, during which we questioned 200 people in the gardens about what they actually wanted to see in the park. Over and over again, the most common response was ‘more use of the bandstand’.”
He added: “We want to study everything that needs to be done and see how much it will cost, then try to raise funds to cover the costs. It will be a project like the restoration of the Linden Arches.
“We are very pleased with the way the arches have worked out and, going by the comments I have received, the public are also very pleased.
“There are lots of ifs and buts into the future, but we do know that we want do do a big restoration project.”
The group will work with the district council, which has agreed to contribute some funding towards the project, on putting together their plans.
Speaking at a meeting of the council’s executive recently, Cllr Dave Shilton, responsible for policy on neighbourhood services, said: “The report is quite vast and I commend Archie Pitts and his committee.
“It will be for the benefit of the Pump Room Gardens, Leamington and its visitors, as well as everyone who visits Warwick district.”