Worcester's Riverside Park – along with three others in the city – has been named as one of the best in the UK by the national Keep Britain Tidy campaign. A prestigious Green Flag has been awarded to the park, an 83.9-hectare green area around the River Severn, running through the heart of the city. The Riverside Park joins the roster of Worcester's premiere parks to secure the Green Flag, with Gheluvelt Park, Cripplegate Park and Fort Royal Park having all retained the award for another year. The awards have been announced during the national Love Parks Week, which runs until July 21.
Councillor Joy Squires, Chair of Worcester City Council's Environment Committee, said: "This is a real testament to the hard work of Council staff and the commitment of our partners since we began to treat the riverside as a park in 2016.
"The Riverside Park is an oasis at the heart of our historic city and this Green Flag is an endorsement of the commitment we have made to making it even more of an appealing location to visit, enjoy and relax in."
The Riverside Park stretches from the boundary of Pitchcroft in the north down to Diglis Bridge in the south. The land in the 83.9-hectare park is owned and managed by the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral, Worcestershire County Council, Severn Trent Water, and the Canal and River Trust – as well as the City Council itself. Those partners, alongside city residents, have all been consulted and involved as the development of the area as a park has taken place.
Timothy Booker, Canal and River Trust Area Operations Manager, said: "It has been a pleasure to work alongside our council colleagues in the creation of the Riverside park. This fantastic space has so much to offer the footpath traveller. Take a break from the hustle of everyday life and enjoy a walk along the river or the Worcester Canal, where life really is better." The awarding of the Green Flag comes as councillors are asked to approve the next proposed round of improvements to Riverside Park. On Tuesday 23 July, the City Council's Environment Committee will consider measures including:
- New signage at the entrances to the park, including totem poles with a new Riverside Park logo
- Improvements to the paths and landscaping in the Le Vesinet area, near Café Severn, and St Andrew's Garden of Remembrance
- Repairs to footpaths, riverside edge and seating on the eastern side of the riverbank
- Changes to the layout and street furniture at Bromsgrove Parade
- New landscaping at the old pumping station in Hylton Road
The overall aim is to increase awareness among visitors of where the Riverside Park is and to encourage people to spend time in the park finding places of interest and enjoying the natural history they encounter. Riverside Park joins Gheluvelt, Cripplegate and Fort Royal, which have all maintained their Green Flags this year, putting them among a record-breaking 1,970 UK parks that have secured the prestigious status. The international award scheme, now into its third decade, recognises parks and green spaces that boast the highest possible environmental standards, are beautifully maintained and have excellent visitor facilities.
Cllr Andy Stafford, Vice Chair of the City Council's Environment Committee, said: "The Green Flag awards to the four Worcester parks are a testament to the hard work and dedication of the City Council's team and of our partners, including the voluntary Friends groups, who strive to maintain the highest standards throughout the year.
"I'd like to thank everyone who contributes to the upkeep of our beautiful parks, ensuring they are safe, welcoming places which people of all ages can enjoy."
Fort Royal Park is located south-east of the city centre, with the main entrance on Wylds Lane. Fort Royal Park is of critical historical significance to the city, as the site of the 1651 Battle of Worcester, the final battle of the English Civil War. It was also visited by the second and third Presidents of the United States of America, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who were keen to see the site they regarded as the place where democracy was effectively born. The park boasts stunning views of the city and a fantastic playground, containing innovative play equipment with a Civil War theme, designed for a range of age groups.
Situated on Barbourne Road in the north of the city, Gheluvelt Park attracts nearly a million visitors a year. It is home to the fantastically popular Splashpad water fountain – loved by families across the city. The Splashpad was part of a £1.4m Heritage Lottery Fund-backed makeover in 2010, which also brought a specially commissioned war memorial feature, new play area and a refurbished bandstand. Gheluvelt Park is on Historic England's official Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Twelve houses built within the park for disabled servicemen have Grade II Listed status, along with its bandstand, entrance arch, gates and railings.
Cripplegate Park is located to the west of the city on New Road, opposite the County Cricket ground. The park boasts stunning flower beds; separate play areas for toddlers through to teens; tennis courts and bowling greens. There is also a striking, nine-foot sculpture of a poppy, created in honour of the men of the Worcestershire Yeomanry who were killed in First World War battles in the Egyptian desert.
International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: "It's fantastic that we have more Green Flag Awards in the UK than ever before, joined this year by 131 International winners. "Each flag honours the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. We congratulate each and every winner on their fantastic achievement."