Listed status of park upgraded

ALEXANDRA Park has been officially recognised as an important historical site by English Heritage.

The popular town centre green space was this week upgraded to a Grade II* listed site – up from its previous Grade II listing.

This does not mean the park has any additional controls over potential future planning issues, rather it is designed as a way of highlighting the importance of the site and encourage more visitors.

It will also, according to English Heritage, encourage local decision makers to take measures to conserve the land in its current state for future generations to enjoy.

A 13-page report outlines the reasons for the change in grading status – with the influence of renowned horticulturalist Robert Marnock chief among them.

The valley which is now home to Alexandra Park was originally farmland and woodland – with the reservoirs added in 1849 to meet the demand of a growing population.

Land was later leased from the owner to establish a nursery garden and series of ponds in the 1850s, with the Hastings Corporation taking over the contract in 1859.

In 1863, the Corporation passed a resolution that ‘the public be permitted access ... for recreation’ to part of the land and set about snapping up more neighbouring pockets to make the park larger.

Then, in 1877, Mr Marnock got his hands on the park and in 1882 it was officially opened to the public by the Prince and Princess of Wales, the latter of who was the Alexandra it took its name from.

Over the years the park has been increased and in 2004 it underwent an extensive restoration programme.

Now the hope is the decision to make it Grade II* will lead to more visitors.

Councillor Emily Westley, the council’s lead member for leisure and amenities, said: “This really is fantastic news. Alexandra Park is certainly one of the ‘jewels in our crown’ so it’s great that English Heritage has recognised this and have implemented the increase in status to Grade II* in recognition of the quality of the park and its historical context.”

“The new status does not entail additional duties for the council but ensures that we fully consider the park when any changes are proposed.

“We have to consult with English Heritage if any planning applications are received which may affect the park; the quality of the park should be fully considered when any changes are proposed.

“There are no additional management operations we need to undertake.”