23 October, 2020

Ellington Park: Major restoration works set to begin following appointment of main contractor

Thanet District Council and Friends of Ellington Park (FOEP) are pleased to announce the award of the major contract to BJF Group, to build a new cafe, restored terrace, new playground and landscaping in Ellington Park.

Works are due to start in October 2020 and are scheduled for completion in early summer 2021. The project will see the creation of a new community café and toilets, landscape works to conserve the terrace and bring back the Cheal’s landscape scheme and with new signage, alongside critical repairs to the pathways. These works will compliment the specialist restoration of the bandstand which started in June 2020.

The tender process was undertaken in two stages and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in a four month delay. In February 2020, six contractors priced for the works however, all were significantly over budget, by approximately £500k. Through a series of meetings with the design team and the funder (National Lottery Heritage Fund), Thanet District Council and FOEP decided to keep the core features of the park’s master plan but had to make the difficult decision to revise the scope of work.. This created a second stage to the tender process with a reduced scope and a reprofiled budget. The new submissions were reviewed on cost (60%) and quality (40%) resulting in a winning tender of £1.4m. 

Changes to the project include: 

  • Keeping the wildlife area as it is currently. New hedge laying and wildlife gardening will be undertaken by the community and volunteers with support from the main contractor.
  • Removing the petanque finish to the community square next to the cafe. 
  • Removing the Pulhamite repairs as it is in fair condition. 
  • Reducing the budget for activities in the park which will now be carried out via partners and FOEP reducing potential community engagement.

The project remains reflective of the needs of the community, as established through consultation. The building of new cafe and toilet facilities will ensure that people can fully enjoy the park as a day out and destination. Restoring the park’s heritage of the victorian terrace, formal gardens (known in the original Cheal design as axis) and the renovation  of the bandstand, will ensure the preservation of the park as people have known and loved it for generations.

The main contractor BJF Group, a Kent based company, impressed the assessment panel with their understanding of the details of the project, the quality of their previous work and competitive pricing.  BJF Group, headquartered in Maidstone, provides a complete building solution incorporating Construction, Mechanical & Electrical, Facilities Management and Project Services to a range of local and national clients. 

Andrew Garrett, Head of Construction at BJF Group said:

“We are delighted to be working with Thanet District Council and the Friends of Ellington Park to deliver the Ellington Park project.  We look forward to working with the community to restore the park to its former glory and leave a legacy for generations to come.” 

Cllr Steve Albon, Cabinet Member for Operational Services said: 

“It’s exciting to see that the major phase of this restoration project is now happening. Getting to this point is an important milestone. While there have been some challenges, in particular having to revise the project scope to ensure it can be delivered, we are now going ahead. 

“It’s testament to the strength and effectiveness of the partnership between the Friends of Ellington Park and Thanet District Council that they’ve been able to conduct the procurement process despite COVID-19. I’d also like to acknowledge the flexibility of our funder, which has allowed us to revisit the budget allocations and reduce the scope in order to ensure that the project can progress at this time.”

The application process is competitive and it will be thanks to the support of National Lottery Players, who fund the good causes administered by Heritage Lottery Fund. Please look out for announcements as the project starts progressing during 2020 and beyond. 

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