Shamed park to become pathway to the sea

STEPHEN PULLINGER It has too often been depicted as a sad emblem of Yarmouth's deprivation problems with frequent complaints about drug use, drunks and anti-social behaviour.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

It has too often been depicted as a sad emblem of Yarmouth's deprivation problems with frequent complaints about drug use, drunks and anti-social behaviour.

And the reputation of once grand St George's Park plummeted to rock bottom two summers ago when an EDP investigation highlighted how families playing on the grass were being exposed to the sight of drug addicts shooting up only yards away in the grounds of the old art school.

However, the borough council's cleaner, safer, greener partnership (CSG) board has now unveiled details of a £2m project to rejuvenate the park and create a green lung - or parkway - stretching from the seafront to the riverside.

The aim is to transform the park into one that will qualify for a prestigious green flag in a parallel scheme of excellence to blue flags for beaches.

Chairman of the CSG board, Paul Garrod, said: "Our wish is for people on the seafront, near the old Holkham hotel, to be able to look inland and see an expanse of green."

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Landscaping work in the park is set to start in July with new planting schemes, pathways and play equipment, improved lighting and enhanced CCTV coverage. Green spaces in Trafalgar Square, Bath Hill Terrace and around the old art school are also in line for a makeover as funding becomes available.

The guesthouse-lined Trafalgar Road, at the heart of the parkway zone, will be made pedestrian-friendly through traffic calming measures to create a Hyde Park style public area.

Mr Garrod said: "We are short of green spaces and we hope the park will gain much wider use, perhaps with art exhibitions and youth groups putting on events."

The cycling charity Sustrans was already interested in identifying the green corridor as part of the Hull to Harwich North Sea cycle route, he added.

Initial work has been funded by the government's cleaner safer greener community initiative, and plans are being prepared for a Lottery bid to create a new community library at one end of the parkway.

Sharon Dodman, who runs the Beacharbour guesthouse in Trafalgar Road, welcomed the revamp as "not before time", saying: "We are always seeing undesirables in the park, with drunks and people pulling up the roses, and there is a problem of dog fouling all the time."

However, Vernon Bauer, who runs Copperfields Guesthouse in Trafalgar Road, expressed concerns that the proposed narrowing of the road and relocation of parking spaces as part of the traffic calming could be detrimental to trade.

The plans will be at Yarmouth library from April 11.