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£4.31 Million Lottery Bid To Transform South Marine Park

South Tyneside Council is about to submit a £4.31 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to transform the South Marine Park in South Shields.

The bid is a partnership project between the Council, Heritage Lottery fund and other funding partners.

The ambitious scheme will restore the popular park to a very high standard and the improvements are seen as a catalyst for the longer-term regeneration of the whole seafront area.

The Council commissioned specialist consultants Cassella Stanger to prepare the Lottery bid which will be submitted next month. A decision is expected by February 2004 and if successful work could start in September 2005.

Major elements of the improvements to South Marine Park include a restoration of the impressive terraces (£440,000), a replacement of the ornate Victorian bandstand (£275,000), restoration of the lake (£260,000) together with new lighting (£250,000) and resurfacing pathways (£312,500).

There will also be extensive tree and shrub planting (£310,000) replacement park furniture (£150,000) and a new children's play area (£120,000) as well as refurbishment of the miniature steam railway (£80,000).
Another big change will be the appointment of a Park Manager and Park Ranger to oversee the new refurbished facility.

As part of the development of the next stage of the bid a Friends of South Marine Park Group is to be formed and one of the roles of the group will be to seek funding from sources which is not available to the Council and also to collect historical information about the Park. Experience elsewhere shows that every family has a story to tell about a visit to the local Park.

As well as providing a number of jobs during the construction period, the South Marine Park project will be used to develop employment initiatives. One idea is to create a dedicated workforce to maintain a three seafront parks using a range of training and employment scheme.

Separate to the Lottery bid the Council is also considering using the depot on the North Marine Park as a base for employment and education initiatives. This will encourage schools to develop 'a classroom in the park' approach to work on environmental studies.

Councillor Ron Reynolds, Lead Member for Lifelong Learning and Leisure, said: ""This is a very exciting and well thought out bid. It will not only create a wonderfully restored park but it has great employment training and education opportunities."

"The South Marine Park is our premier park and its location makes it a tremendous asset for local people and visitors. The park is a place for people of all ages to enjoy and if the Lottery bid is successful the South Marine Park will once again be one of the best in the region."

If anyone is interested in supporting the bid or has an interesting story about the Park please contact Richard Jago, Cultural Operations Manager, Tel: 424 7984.

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