Houghton Hall Park is now owned and maintained by both Central Bedfordshire Council and Houghton Regis Town Council. Houghton Hall Park is ‘the green-lung of Houghton Regis’, and as such its value to local residents cannot be underestimated. The Hall, an important landmark, is now privately owned and does not form part of the park. Houghton Hall originally looked south onto estate parkland stretching toward the A505 (since developed for housing and industry). It was commissioned by Alice Brandreth in 1700.
Historic changes in ownership (including council boundaries) left the parkland diminished in size, but the park was awarded a funding bid of £2.2 million to transform the park from Heritage and Big Lottery Funds ‘Parks for People’ grant scheme in June 2015. The Renaissance and Renewal project has so far restored the vitality of the park by:
• Bringing together different user groups
• Increasing accessibility and pride
• Celebrating local park heritage
• Improving visitor facilities to meet the needs of a growing modern community
The ‘Renaissance and Renewal’ is built on the park’s ‘living heritage’ to protect it for future generations.
Central Bedfordshire Council’s Countryside Access team have a site management plan including maintaining wildlife and increasing biodiversity of the site. As part of the natural seasonal cycle, annual conservation management and maintenance activities include both mowing the meadow and scrub clearance. In the woodland areas a constant balance is managed: between opening up the tree canopy to benefit the people, flora and fauna below, and maintaining cover for resident and migratory birds. The diversity of landscape habitats are a heritage feature of the site and will be enhanced and protected. During the project, consultant ecologists and landscape and heritage specialists, have undertaken habitat mapping, landscape surveys, and breeding bird and bat surveys. Wildlife in the park will be protected and accommodated, whilst landscape heritage features have been identified, restored, explained and interpreted for future generations. The project involved both tree felling and tree planting, but only in order to open up historic site-lines and to protect certain species from disease.
The Heritage Lottery Fund's and Big Lottery Fund's "Parks for People" programme supports heritage parks to improve their condition, become better managed, and better recorded, interpreted and explained: with a view toward long term sustainability.
The Renaissance and Renewal Project was delivered in partnership with a number of organisations:
Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund
The Heritage Lottery Fund is the largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK since 1994; using money raised by National Lottery players to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. You can visit the Heritage Lottery Fund website here.
Central Bedfordshire Council
Central Bedfordshire Council is a unitary authority covering Houghton Regis, Dunstable and the region. Central Bedfordshire Council led the Parks for People bid to restore Houghton Hall Park. You can visit Central Bedfordshire Council’s website.
Houghton Regis Town Council
Houghton Regis Town Council was established in 1980 and is involved in providing services for the residents of Houghton Regis and is a key partner in the delivery of this project. To visit Houghton Regis Town Council’s website, please click here.
The Greensand Trust
The Greensand Trust are an independent environmental charity, working as a delivery partner for Central Bedfordshire Council. To visit the Greensand Trust website, please click here.
Houghton Regis Heritage Society
Houghton Regis Heritage Society worked closely with the park partners on a range of projects to uncover the history of the Park. To find out more about the group, please click here.