Much more could be done if council is serious about respecting ‘vision’

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According to a report in the Lynn News on July 31, members of West Norfolk Council’s cabinet are of the opinion that restoration of a Hunstanton park is crucial to Hunstanton’s future.

For a split second I thought the ‘park’ in question was the one in old Hunstanton, owned by the le Strange Estate; or the Westgate Gardens bulldozed in 1963 to make way for the bus station and car park; but reading on, it soon became apparent that the esplanade gardens together with The Green are now being referred to by the Council as a ‘park’.

Presumably, this description is intended to increase the chances of Heritage Lottery funding coming our way under the ‘Parks for People’ scheme. If this is part of a plan to attract cash it will be interesting to see if the Council is going to stick to the original proposal, which was to return the whole of The Green to its former glory, so that it more closely resembles Henry le Strange’s carefully conceived plan for his sea bathing village of St Edmund’s.

The fourth paragraph of Alistair Webb’s detailed report indicates that the bid is a proposal to spend £825,000 restoring the historic green spaces andbuildings on the town’s Green, Esplanade Gardens and Cliff Parade areas.

There follows a direct quote from a report published by officers ahead of the meeting making this message even clearer by stating: “The Green space was central to the original vision of Henry Styleman le Strange for a purpose built seaside resort. The areas remain pivotal to the town’s heritage and seaside facilities today, but have deteriorated and heritage assets eroded due to piecemeal and inappropriate design of key features over the years.”

The article goes on to reveal the extent to which the Council accepts the need to deliver a comprehensive restoration of this important seaside park, which celebrates and respects the original vision of its founder, leaving a lasting legacy of greater awareness of how the area has developed over time.

Let’s be honest, I could not have put it better myself, and if the Council is serious about dealing with all the issues arising from heritage assets eroded due to piecemeal and inappropriate design of key features over the years, I look forward to supporting members and officers every step of the way, just as I was pleased to work with John Dobson and Nick Daubney when they made a manifesto pledge in 2007 to reinstate Hunstanton Pier - a heritage asset if ever there was one!

This prospect was summed up rather nicely in an article from ‘Homes and Antiques’ in August 2008 which contained this quote: “The historic character of seaside towns was what made them beautiful and enjoyable, so it seems it’s the wrought-iron piers, art deco lidos and promenades, chalets and bathing huts that appeal, rather than modern landmark developments...”

Perhaps the only way to improve the incongruous apartments in the grounds of the Golden Lion Hotel and further along Cliff Parade would be to encourage ivy to cover these typical examples of inappropriate development, but on the seaward side of The Green much more could be done if the Council is serious about respecting the vision of the town’s founder.