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Great Lines City Park gets huge cash boost

Date: 26/11/2008           Category: Leisure

Medway Council today (Weds) welcomes the news that the Great Lines City Park will receive an enormous £2 million cash boost. The money, which will be used to restore and revitalise the Great Lines, will help the authority in its bid to make Chatham Dockyard and its Defences a World Heritage Site. The announcement was made this morning (Weds) by Margaret Beckett, the government minister for the Thames Gateway, and the money will be used to restore heritage features, open up new access routes and bring new life to the park. Funding will come from the government's Communities and Local Government (CLG) “Parklands” fund, which supports the preservation and enhancement of outstanding heritage and green space within the Thames Gateway. Cllr Rodney Chambers, Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, said: “Medway Council and the Communities and Local Government department's decision to invest in the future of the Great Lines reflects the outstanding significance of Chatham's World Heritage and the major role it will play in Medway's regeneration. “The Great Lines City Park will enable everyone to take pride in Chatham's past and to have great confidence in Medway's future". More than 270 local residents and other interested parties have already spent the summer creating a master plan for the park. This includes free access to Fort Amherst, a new footbridge connecting the Fort and Great Lines and a vastly improved network of paths connecting Chatham, Gillingham and Brompton. In all, the Great Lines City Park will cover almost 70 hectares, from Medway Maritime Hospital to the universities at Medway campus. Within the park boundary is land currently in the ownership of Medway Council, Fort Amherst Heritage Trust and the Ministry of Defence. Alan Anstee, Chairman of Fort Amherst Heritage Trust, said: “The Trustees are delighted that Fort Amherst will be making as major a contribution to Chatham’s future as it did to its past. “The Great Lines City Park will shine the spotlight back on Fort Amherst and the Chatham Lines and help make every Medway resident proud of their past, present and future”. Lieutenant Colonel Peter Sonnex, Chief of Staff at the Royal School of Military Engineering Chatham Garrison, added: "The Great Lines are integral to the story of the Royal Engineers at Chatham and to the story of Medway as a whole. “We are delighted to be working in partnership to make the Great Lines a similarly integral part of Medway's future". Martin Hall, Director for Greening the Gateway Kent and Medway, said the new finance is a ‘great result’ for Medway and North Kent. He added: “The Thames Gateway Parklands is about promoting high quality, accessible and wildlife rich areas close to the communities of North Kent. The Great Lines City Park is an excellent example of what Parklands could be. This new money is a great result for North Kent and Medway. We have put a lot of hard work into securing these funds and it is great to have such a positive result”. Lindsey Morgan, Chair of the Chatham World Heritage Partnership, said: "The success of our Parklands application is founded on the hard work and enthusiasm of everyone who took part in shaping priorities for the park this summer. “I believe the Chatham World Heritage Partnership is an excellent model for community involvement at the grassroots of major projects.” The Chatham World Heritage Partnership will be celebrating the success of the application at a special gathering at Fort Amherst, from 6pm on Wednesday December 10th. Plans for the £2m spend will be on display in the Fort’s visitor centre and refreshments will be served in the candlelit tunnels. People attending the event will also have an opportunity to choose a name for the park. Anyone can attend, but places must be booked by emailing chathamworldheritage@medway.gov.uk (or calling 01634 331176) by 3rd December and should be booked early as space is limited. Joanne Cable, World Heritage Site and Great Lines City Park project manager, said: “This announcement is an excellent conclusion to a busy and inspirational summer of planning, and represents an exciting new lease of life for one of Medway’s outstanding heritage assets. “I look forward to beginning work on the new plans for the park, and choosing the park’s at the next partnership event”. --- ENDS--- Notes to Editors: 1) Chatham Dockyard and its Defences have been on the UK government’s shortlist of potential World Heritage Sites since 1999. An application is being developed by the Chatham World Heritage steering group. For more information visit www.chathamworldheritage.co.uk. 2) The Chatham Lines are a series of deep bastioned ditches and ramparts which joined Fort Amherst in protecting Chatham Dockyard from landward attack (see image). The Great Lines is the historic name for the associated open “Field of Fire” which offered an approaching enemy no shelter. 3) The first phase of the Great Lines City Park will open in autumn 2009. Mid Kent College is investing £1.35m in the restoration of 5.5ha of land as a public park next to their new campus at the Lower Lines. Medway Park – the 2012-inspired renovation of the Black Lion Leisure Centre and outdoor facilities – will form the sporting and activities zone of the Great Lines City Park, and will be open from 2010. 4) The Chatham World Heritage Partnership welcomes anyone with any nature of interest in the site. The Partnership meets two-three times a year, in various historic locations within the proposed World Heritage Site. Partners receive regular updates by email or post. There are over 430 partners, 137 of whom came to the last meeting (at the Royal Engineers Museum) in August. 5) The next meeting of the Chatham World Heritage Partnership is generously sponsored by ASDA. Lighting in the tunnels will be provided by Events with Elegance. For more information journalists should contact: John Staples, media and internal communications manager. Tel no 01634 332021. john.staples@medway.gov.uk