The plans to conserve and enhance Ellington Park in Ramsgate moved one step closer to fruition when planning approval was granted by Thanet District Council, on Wednesday 16 May, for a café and events hub in the historic park.
Thanet District Council and Friends of Ellington Park with the kind support of Heritage Lottery Fund, are working to improve Ellington Park by restoring its original layout and enhancing its facilities. The entire project seeks to build community involvement and engagement as well as to promote civic pride.
During 2018 over 6,500 people were consulted about the developments to the park, 85% wanted a café and toilet facilities, the approved café design does much more than provide these facilities.
Historically, Ellington Park contained public toilets and a range of outbuildings for community use, such as summerhouses and shelters. The loss of these buildings has had a significant impact on the park. Due to the lack of toilets, visits are short and there are few places locally that offer food and refreshments for park users.
The proposed building will include toilets and a cafe, which will also be used as an education space in the day time and community events space in the evenings. The building will be located on the terrace, overlooking the park in the same location as the original rustic bandstand.
Situated on the terrace of the park the 100sq metre café building will have 36 seats inside and 24 seats on the external terrace and 3 unisex toilets, with accessible WC and baby change. The café can be converted to a community hub and education space, with sink and storage, for art and wildlife workshops with schools and families, as well as talks and events for the wider community.
Cllr Rosanna Taylor-Smith, Cabinet member for Operational Services at Thanet District Council commented:
“This is excellent news for Ellington Park – the approved plans demonstrate a real vision for the park that reflects its importance to the local community. The proposals are a great response to the community consultation and show that the local residents and park users have been listened to. We will continue to support the hard work of the Friends of Ellington Park who are driving force behind the bid to restore and improve this historic open space.”
Beverley Perkins, Chair of the Friends of Ellington Park said:
“The Friends are so pleased that the project is progressing so well and we are looking forward to having a community space in the park. The café will give a plethora of opportunities for volunteers to learn new skills, and be involved in the workshops and events. We anticipate that it will be prove to be an integral part of our local community.”
The café design has been carefully considered by Claque Architects and the project team to maximise the use of space, meet the needs of the community and create a modern building with key heritage features:
- Flat roof single story modern building, with knapped flint finish to match the Victorian boundary walls of the park
- Glazed frontage with central opening and concertina doors open to seating area.
- Windows and doors on 3 sides of the building taking in the best views of the park, with security shutters for night time protection
- Accessible toilets and baby change
- Kitchen with servery hatch, for eating in and take away, including seasonal summer and winter use
- Cafe seating and storage partition, converting the café into a community events, education and workshop space
The new café and toilet building will be centrally positioned on the terrace with new benches, the promenade will be widened and an outdoor seating area created. There will also be a new public square for market stalls and a petanque area, for the use of over 90,000 visitors per year.
The successful planning application and community support for the building means the project can move forward to the next step of applying for the funds (£1.8m) funds from HLF. A decision should be known January 2019, with the project taking another 2 years to procure, build and complete the café alongside the other works in the park.
Once built and open, the café will be run and managed as an environmentally friendly, healthy café run as a not–for–profit community enterprise by the Friends of Ellington Park.