Hanley Park has been recognised nationally and awarded its first Green Flag Award.

The 123-year-old venue, which has undergone a multi-million pound restoration over the last four years, has been recognised nationally as a quality green public space by the charity Keep Britain Tidy.

The 60-acre park, which opened in 1897, has had its bandstand restored, the main pavilion reinstated as a café and its boathouse brought back to life along with a whole raft of other improvements which has led to a surge in visitors. Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which owns and maintains the park, successfully bid for £4.5 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund in 2015 to restore the park’s historic features and attract more park users of all ages.

Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for environment and housing at the city council, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have received a Green Flag for Hanley Park for the first time. The park’s transformation over the last few years has been quite incredible and this award feels like a very fitting culmination to all of the hard work that has taken place to get it looking how it does today. One thing the coronavirus pandemic has shown us is just how important it still is to have quality outdoor spaces that everyone can access and enjoy. Hanley Park, like many of our other fantastic parks and green spaces in the city, has become a lifeline for people to relax, meet friends, exercise or just take a break from the day-to-day. Footfall in our parks is up by more than 30 per cent compared to the Midlands average.

“We’re very thankful for the financial support we received to make the park’s transformation possible. It’s great to see the park busy and full of people enjoying the fantastic facilities it now has, such as the Pavilion Café. The response from the public to the restoration has been very positive but if there are still people out there who have not visited then don’t just take my word for it – please come down and see for yourselves.”

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for their management across the United Kingdom and around the world. On top of the £4.5 million invested in Hanley Park, a further £1.5 million was contributed towards the project by the city council and from Section 106 money.

Daniel Bailey, aged 34, from Packmoor, visits the park with his wife Natalie and their four-year-old son, Rowan. He said: “The work that has been done to the park is great and it’s really taken it up another level. We visit the park to take our son to the play area because they have quite a large one with good equipment and he really enjoys it. It’s good there is a nice café now at the park where you can sit indoors and have something to eat or drink and make it more of a day out. The Green Flag award is really well deserved.”

Hanley Park is one of more than 2,000 sites across the country to collect the award for 2020. Elsewhere in the city, Burslem Park has also secured a Green Flag in this year’s awards. And a short distance away at Tunstall Park, the city council last month started work on a £729,000 restoration project that will see a range of improvements carried out to the park.

(Main Image Tony Woolliscroft.)

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