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Planning committee approves £2m revamp for Castle Park in Bishop's Stortford

Transformation plans for Castle Park in Bishop's Stortford. (7257521)
Transformation plans for Castle Park in Bishop's Stortford. (7257521)

Plans to restore the Waytemore Castle mound will be the crowning glory of the Castle Park project after district councillors gave the £2m scheme for Bishop's Stortford their seal of approval.

East Herts Council's development management committee waved through proposals to redesign Sworder’s Field and Castle Gardens, including conservation work for the town’s grade I listed, scheduled ancient monument.

Steps to the top of the ruins – which some historians believe may have originally been a Celtic burial mound – will be clad to improve public access.

Before giving their judgement last Wednesday, some committee members visited Castle Park for a closer look.

Cllr Jeff Jones said: “I think this is a very good proposal. I did walk up to the top of Waytemore Castle. It was very pleasant and this is a very good scheme which I fully support.”

The mound’s recorded history begins during the 11th-century reign of William the Conqueror, when a motte and bailey castle was built. A rectangular great tower was added in the 12th century.

Concrete capping will be removed from a well at the top of the monument and replaced with a glass cover as part of works to illustrate and articulate its history, while lighting will accentuate its place in the landscape.

Elsewhere in the park, a network of paths will be created with new bridges to improve access, along with relocated tennis courts, an enlarged teenage recreation area, relocation of the Victorian drinking fountain and improvements to the riverbank.

While Bishop’s Stortford Town Council leader Cllr John Wyllie was asked to read a letter of objection to plans for the park's buildings from resident Mione Goldspink, the committee was unswayed.

She was protesting at proposals to change the Markwell Pavilion and Elsie Barrett Room into a cafe and community meeting space, with Changing Places toilets suitable for disabled people.

The disused, single-storey, detached toilet block, next to The Causeway, will become a community hall with a small kitchen and a single accessible toilet.

The work, part of a joint project by the town, district and county councils, is being financed by a £2m lottery grant confirmed last month.

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