A new shared vision for this important urban park developed through engagement with all sides of the community. The park re-opened to the public in October 2015 to widespread acclaim with the focus firmly on the shared future ahead and not its troubled past.
In the 19th Century, the 6th Duke of Manchester bequeathed his land to the ‘People of Portadown’ hence the name People’s Park. Historically thousands each week would enjoy the wide range of activities on offer. The emerging troubles led to the demise of the park in the 1970’s due to it being location at a main interface area. The park borders the route of the Drumcree parade, which at its height drew worldwide attention. Decades of conflict and under investment led to the decline of the park. Many on Council had the memory of happier shared times and so began the work of articulating a vision for the park with funding and the support of all sides of the community.
Regenerating the park took place through a project called: SPACE: Shared Process and Community Engagement project. This included consultations with schools, youth organisations, community groups, resident’s associations, local businesses and a range of statutory agencies. The ‘Peace Building’ element of the programme engaged with thousands of participants through the delivery a series of creative youth projects, community projects, sports and physical activity projects. And as part of the launch, a specially commissioned music video with a poignant message of the town ‘Moving On’ was produced with the input of over 40 organisations including choirs, orchestras and bands.
Works to the park include the construction of an Amphitheatre, play areas, a pavilion building, synthetic pitches, tranquil gardens, upgrade to the existing pitches, improvements to pedestrian connectivity, restoration of the lake and promotion of environmental activities for schools and improving access from the town centre.
An explosion of new users have since re-claimed the park. From October 2015 – December 2015 there were over 120,000 visits recorded to the park with an increase of over 40% from non-traditional users. People who believed they would never be able to set foot in the park now regularly visit with their families.
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