The declining condition of the lilypond, lodges and walled gardens on Napier Miles road has long been a concern to us. The structures were already on the national Heritage at Risk Register when KWAG formed in 2011, and the condition over the last three years has declined alarmingly. The pond is now clogged with reeds and self-seeded trees whose roots are damaging the lining, probably the cause of the water having been lost. The lodges are gradually disintegrating and without any future plan for restoration. The walled gardens on the opposite side of the road, behind the old stables, are also in a parlous state. This month’s working party marks a refocus on this important part of the parkland.
For years we’ve been looking at the possibility of working with Kingsweston Special School to put together a project to rescue the site, but it’s recently come to our attention that the pond and lodges have been declared surplus to the needs of the Council’s education team, and returned to the city’s property team. Having enquired, there is no current maintenance happening, or plan for what to do with the difficult site. KWAG has contacted the Council with the offer of taking on these important historic elements of the park. This is at a very early stage, but we’re glad that the Council have even been responsive to our approach. We hope to explore how we can seek grant funding to restore the lodges for some productive future use that might support the restoration and opening up of the pond to the public. We are also keen to discuss whether areas of the grounds on the opposite side of the road can be brought into the mix, to enable greater flexibility in what could happen across the whole of the walled garden area. But, like we said, this is a first step into what might become a major project for us. What we would like, from everyone who reads these newsletters, from neighbours of the site, from parks visitors and local residents, is some ideas as to what people would find most valuable to them here. KWAG have previously looked at projects that might:
- Provide respite accommodation in one of the lodges to support Kings Weston Special School
- A small affordable housing unit in one of the lodges
- A small lettable office or self-catering cottage in one of the lodges
- Growing space around the former stables to support local growers.
- A nature garden in the former “View Garden”
- Improved visitor facilities
We also want to hear from anyone who wants to get involved in shaping this project. We need volunteers to come forward to help in the short term to clear the areas that we might end up with, help maintain them, take care of the gardens around the edge of the pond, and anyone with interest or experience in helping set the project up with partners.
As the project develops we’ll be going out to more formal consultation, making sure everyone is on board with anything we might do. But, as we said, this is all at an extremely early stage right now, and the most important thing is to gauge interest, and establish whether a project of this scale could be supported. Any messages or offers of support you can offer will help us determine whether we are in a strong enough position to take on what would be our biggest challenge to date, so please do let us know any thoughts you have on what should happen here.