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FoPP Future Vision for the Park

INTRODUCTION
Three Key Elements
Community
Heritage
Making it Happen
Delivery
Destination 

Financial Viability
Museum
Partnership
Park Infrastructure

Green Flag

As the Friends of Preston Park we would like to see The Park (as a whole, museum and grounds) be developed into a facility that fully reflects its status as The Tees Valley’s premier visitor attraction, offers a broad range of facilities and attractions to the wider community of the Tees Valley and can be a beacon to outsiders, showcasing the best of our region and the wealth of our history and heritage. We also see that the best form of protection for the Park for the long term is to boost its value through activity, that would make it a no go area for any future land grab!

We would also like to see a long term commitment to the Park as a whole managed independently by a dedicated team that would guarantee its future viability. Sustainability of a cohesive strategy through a dedicated and Integrated management team, would lead to improved facilities, communication, financial management and operating practice, and allow for better formal and informal liaison and consultation with all stakeholders.

In no way do we see this document to cover all possibilities or be a complete blueprint, but rather set the agenda and show how we would hope to see the Future Development of our Park. It is our intention to show the same strands in all parts of the document and duplication of Ideas is wholly intentional.

Three Key Elements
In looking to this future we found three key elements that we would like to see built on. In this we want to ensure that in any future developments no part of the current value of this wonderful facility is lost.
Our vision is based on three interlinked and overlapping elements;

  • Community - As a focal point for Leisure, education and wellbeing.
  • Heritage – A showcase of the Worth and Depth of our heritage and the place that is Preston.
  • Outdoors and the Countryside – As a gateway to enjoying activities outdoors and the greater Countryside beyond.

Community
Preston Park is already a thriving hub for the community and in particular for Leisure with informal activities a major call. Dog walkers are a constant presence from a wide area and year round, as are runners and walkers. Families amble and picnic, with children taking delight in feeding ducks, play and winter sledging. The park is regularly visited by schools groups, the disabled and handicapped. We would like to see all of these enhanced through improvements to paths, in particular as exercise trails with attendant structures; cycling for leisure linked to the local network; and a clear guidance for dog walking and exercise. We would like to see major improvements in communication with Major upgrades to signage, notice boards and information cards within the park. Regular broadcasting of the activities through all possible media streams is to be encouraged.

Wellbeing can be delivered through greater physical activity both in the formal and informal sense with the encouragement and facilitation of classes for exercise from Running to Tai Chi. The Allotments and the walled garden offer opportunities to promote growing food, healthy living and sustainability. This can be linked to markets and fairs with strong local bias. Clubs can be invited and encouraged to utilise the facilities and in particular for sporting purposes and the use of the river.

Contacts with local schools and the development of packages of activities can make Preston Park a significant part of education in the Tees Valley. But on a far wider scale the promotion of education across all areas, from the promotion of Historical Societies through adult education and specifically arts and crafts, utilising the facilities and contributing to the future of the park. From this we could see a growth of exhibitions of work, both amateur and commercial across a broad range of areas. Offering the facilities as a meeting place which can be hired out and catering provided. Wedding facilities could be improved and include a catering service and incorporating marquees and or outdoor and indoor space. Drama and music both indoor and outdoor, amateur and professional can be promoted at many levels with links to local music services and training organisations.

Heritage
Whilst we are blessed with the Museum and Street with its attendant developments we would hope to see the expansion of the heritage value of the whole park within the context of its status as a Victorian Estate, and the wider areas of the Valley and River with particular emphasis on Railways and Steam, Shipping, Iron and Steel and the Broad history of the area. We would hope to see this spread across the park as a whole, and link in to the Natural History of the park with links to the Tees Heritage Park. Exhibitions illustrating the unique heritage of the area for both Stockton and the broader Tees Valley.
          
Examples could include:
  • Invention of the Match
  • Stockton to Darlington Railways
  • Steam Boats on the Tees
  • Iron and Steel industries
  • Mining on the Cleveland Hills
  • Old and new Photos of well know places.
  • Artwork of the area by local artists
  • Themed quizzes for school children to test their knowledge and share information.
  • Outdoors and Countryside 
We have wonderful green spaces which we would hope to see managed and enhanced for both enhanced bio diversity and public enjoyment. Areas such as Quarry wood and the adjacent meadow would be a priority for upgrading along with the river bank. We would also like to see the development of an enclosed Wildlife area at the north end of the park; where nature can be promoted and enhanced free from interference and become a controlled entry haven and education tool. We would like to see this linked to the Tees Heritage park with Nature trails and information transfer a key priority.

The development of a small Home Farm allowing contact with and gaining an understanding of animals and practices, with both a modern and a heritage content would be a major drawcard for the park with significant education potential. The enhancement of a Wild Flower Meadow below the south field would also be highly desirable.

Allotments are a core part of the park and we not only want to see them enhanced , but also become a part of the wider education and awareness activities of the park. Their activities on sustainability and wild life are key examples. It would be hoped that with the allotment associations our allotments could become National beacons.

Making it Happen
Linkages are critical to our vision, and one area that gives great potential is the expansion of the Park Made project. We would hope to see the development of Layered activities that begin with Education – Training courses and schools outreach, through workshops both on and off site; and progress to the sale of products through the Shop facilities and a series of craft markets. We would hope to see the retailing of Local products and in particular produce and crafts as the inspiration for on site retail. The key areas we see for development would be:
  • Artwork
  • Metal Craft
  • Woodworking
  • Forest Crafts
  • Horticulture
  • Local Produce
  • Giftware with links to the themes in the Park 

Delivery
Whilst much of the control would be by the Council Officers we would like to see an expansion of delivery by voluntary and commercial partners. The emphasis would need to be local and smaller organisations, rather than large regional or  national partners. We also feel that opportunities exist to utilise major partners as sponsors of activities and events.

Destination 

To become a hub of the community we need to be seen as the place to go on many levels. This involves building on the already vibrant life of the park and adding to it. The key current draws to the park are:

• The Museum
• Children’s Play
• Dog walkers
• Family Leisure
• Allotment Gardening
• The River Events
• ButterflyWorld

We see potential for development in the above but also and as a core

• The Café
• In Park Trails
• Sculpture
• Railways
• Markets and shop
• Sport
• Nature
• Events - Park Themed

Financial Viability
Whilst a facility such as this will always require grant maintenance from the Local government coffers, we would hope to see a change in its management, to make it more self funding and less of a burden on the rate payer, whilst enshrining free access to the public and keeping costs to a minimum. We would anticipate a growth in partnership activities for the provision of some activities and services with some held wholly by the management. Partnership activities should be at a minimum self financing and wherever possible contribute to park costs or offer a profit share or rent to the park coffers.

A particular example of this is the café which could be completely redeveloped to become a Major Destination, which will deliver revenue to the park coffers. This could be managed internally or as a partnership. A redevelopment should be sited
for maximum links to the river and park as a whole and be capable of delivering both child friendly quick meals and a Healthy eating option. Links to catering and evening opening or functions such as weddings would be a core objective. The development and décor should reflect the park vision as a whole and be aspirational.

Museum
Major Events – Approved outside agencies and facilitators through an application process, controlled by Park Management, with help to advertise the event through the council publications. Fairs – Arts, Craft, Food and Horticultural activities - managed wholly by the management and its partners, with emphasis on Localism, sustainability, and family wellbeing.

Partnership
Currently the park only has one partnership in place, Butterfly World. Whilst adding an additional element it does not add anything to the global strategic view of the Park whilst commanding a premium site of substantial size. We would hope to see future developments and agreements that fit with the core park ideals, that maximise opportunites for visitors and enhance the total offering of the Cohesive park Vision. We furthermore see opportunities for raising revenue through targeted sponsorship and operating partnerships. We would also hope to see more charitable involvement as the park is of particular importance to the Disabled and Handicapped within the broader community.

Apart from the obvious opportunities in the heritage fields we see the following areas as key targets;

- Craft Education
- Sports, River use
- Home Farm 
- Walled Garden
- The Café

Park Infrastructure
Whilst the basic infrastructure of the park is vital we see that the management has taken very positive actions in recent times to improve and enhance. We would however like to see the opportunities for After  Dark activities to be enhanced. A major obstacle to this is the lack of lighting in the central areas of the Park and Museum. This is particularly a barrier to the
evening events in the Museum complex and especially for the Elderly. We would hope to See a program for lighting of the Car park and the link Paths to the key areas as a priority.

Green Flag
We see it as a priority that the park gains Green Flag status.


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