Hampshire Country Parks amongst the world’s best

country parks

Councillor Seán Woodward, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, has welcomed news that three of the County Council’s country parks are officially among the best in the world, with each of them awarded the internationally recognised Green Flag for 2020.

The international quality mark is a sign to the public that Lepe, Queen Elizabeth and Royal Victoria country parks boast the highest possible environmental standards, are beautifully maintained, and have excellent visitor facilities.

Royal Victoria Country Park, which the County Council manages in partnership with the Forestry Commission, has also received the much-coveted Green Heritage Site Accreditation for the management of its historic features.

Councillor Woodward said: “We are proud to have our popular country parks recognised once again as world class open spaces. This year the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how vital it is for people to spend regular, quality time outdoors – not just for good physical health but also for mental wellbeing.

“Our Country Parks’ latest Green Flag Awards are the result of our staff, volunteers and partners’ hard work and passion, and I am deeply grateful for their dedication to ensure these stunning sites are safe and accessible for all to enjoy.”

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.

Commenting on the three country parks’ success, Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “This year, more than ever, our parks and green spaces have been a lifeline and we know that millions of people have used them to relax, meet friends, exercise or simply escape for a short time.

“It is testament to the incredible dedication and hard work of parks staff and volunteers that, despite the challenges that went along with record numbers of visitors, Hampshire County Council has achieved the highest international standards for Lepe, Queen Elizabeth and Royal Victoria country parks demanded by the Green Flag Award.”

The County Council is investing extensively in its Country Parks to make them even more enjoyable, with projects that have collectively attracted nearly £7 million in external funding, as part of a £19.5 million total spend. Significant improvements have already been made to facilities and historical features at Lepe, Royal Victoria and Queen Elizabeth country parks and transformation work at Staunton and River Hamble country parks, such as providing new and improved visitor centres, is well underway. The County Council did not submit Staunton and River Hamble country parks for this year’s Green Flag Awards due to the development works taking place.

Councillor Woodward added: “Our parks have welcomed visitors and encouraged them to get away from it all in our beautiful natural environment for over 40 years. That’s why we’re committed to investing in our country parks to continue to strive for excellence and give our visitors a world-class experience.”

Each of Hampshire’s country parks offers something unique.

  • Facilities at Lepe Country Park on the coast of the New Forest have been recently improved with a new restaurant offering views of the Solent and Isle of Wight, sensory garden, play equipment, landscape works and better car parking.
  • Queen Elizabeth Country Park, near Petersfield, is Hampshire’s biggest country park with more than 200 acres of woodland and downland. The park’s visitor centre will be transformed to include a bigger restaurant, more welcoming entrance, outdoor sheltered area and space for tourism-based businesses.
  • Royal Victoria Country Park sits on the shores of the Solent, near Netley. The refurbishment of its historic Chapel, the only remaining part of what was once the world’s largest military hospital of its time in 1863, has provided an extremely popular historic attraction for visitors.
  • River Hamble Country Park, near Bursledon, can be enjoyed by all – whether it’s walking, cycling or horse riding in the woods, or on the banks of the River Hamble. The ongoing transformation of this park this year will see a new visitor centre, improved play equipment and better paths and trail signage to attract more families and make it more accessible.
  • Staunton Country Park, near Havant, offers the perfect venue for keen walkers, cyclists and anglers. Adventure seekers can explore the park’s three permanent orienteering courses or wander into the tropics of the South Coast’s largest Victorian Glasshouse. Following a soon-to-be completed transformation, the park will also benefit from a new and improved visitor centre, café and improved parking.

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