The country park near Newton Abbot has been awarded a £341,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for its “Restoring Stover Park” project.
The two-year grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund will support further work and studies to help restore Stover Park and its historic heritage. It will also help to enhance the park’s facilities for local communities, visitors and wider tourism.
Devon County Council, which owns Stover Country Park, has been supported by other landowners and organisations to secure the grant. It now has permission to start the two-year development phase of the project to examine the best options to restore Stover Park over the next few years.
The National Lottery Heritage funding will also enable Stover Park to develop plans to be sustainable and carbon neutral. It will support the development of plans for expanding Stover’s interpretation, and an activity plan will be created for visitor engagement at Stover Park, including an extension to the visitor centre and café.
New educational opportunities will be developed, and in partnership with Age UK Devon and Action for Children charities, Stover Park will develop initiatives to reach and engage with disadvantaged groups and individuals within local communities.
Stover is also a Local Nature Reserve and with its many different habitats supports a wealth of wildlife species. Fourteen species of bat are found at Stover and it is also a designated hotspot for dragonflies in Devon, including the scarce Downy Emerald and Red eyed Damselfly.
The grant will fund the preparation of a number of major projects at Stover Park. This will include:
– Finalising options to remove silt from Stover Lake to help restore it as a healthy fresh-water feature and improve the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest);
– Ecological and archaeological surveys to be carried out within the park;
– Technical surveys to help plan the restoration of three Grade 2 Listed Buildings within Stover Park – two of which are on the Heritage at Risk Register;
– Feasibility studies will be carried out on the possible restoration of a designed ornamental lake and improved water management within Stover Park;
– The expansion and creation of new walking and access routes will be investigated.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Stover Country Park faces many modern-day challenges such as increased visitor numbers and climate change, and this funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund is a great opportunity to tackle that as well as other environmental issues and water management. It will also enable the delivery of biodiversity improvements and will increase opportunities for volunteering and help us explore new initiatives to help maintain Stover as a regional Historic Park and Garden.
“Stover has remained open throughout the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown as it’s an important facility for people’s health and wellbeing. Its wide paths and walkways enable visitors to keep a safe distance while enjoying the park and as lockdown has eased in recent weeks the impressive increase in visitor numbers illustrates the importance of the park.”
Councillor George Gribble, County Councillor for Bovey Tracey Rural, said: “To receive a grant from the NLHF is a great result and thanks must be offered to all the landowners and partner organisations who have worked together over many years to support the grant application. It is also great news for the many volunteers, who work tirelessly to maintain Stover Country Park as a valuable park for visitors and wildlife.”
The projects funded through the grant are among those outlined in the “Parkland Plan” 10-year vision for Stover Country Park, published in 2014. The recommendations of this plan identified a series of actions to accommodate further visitor pressures from increased populations in Newton Abbot and Teignbridge.
A grant application for the second round of National Lottery Heritage funding will be prepared for the delivery phase of the project, which is scheduled to take place from 2022-2025. This will include a full fundraising plan, business plan, conservation management plan, and management and maintenance plan.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the start of the Restoring Stover Park project, Devon County Council is continuing to work and consult with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as neighbouring landowners, statutory organisations, charities and visitors prior to delivery of the scheme.