An historic park is to undergo a major restoration project thanks to a £606,800 grant.
Ampthill Great Park secured the cash to “further investigate, restore and enhance the park’s landscape, historic and heritage features, whilst ensuring it meets the needs of its current and future visitors”.
Much of the park’s landscape was designed by Georgian landscape architect Lancelot “Capability” Brown, and remains historically significant.
A key part to the project is to restore it with tree planting and reinstate his view points.
Access to the park will also be improved with updated pathways and entrances.
The plan includes the development of mobile phone technology to encourage a wider age-range of users.
Ampthill Park development manager Gary Quilter said: “The park is Grade II listed and a county wildlife site.
“The key feature is its topography, and the view points designed by Capability Brown are widely used.
“Ampthill has a strong community spirit and we hope people will want to get involved with the restoration.”
Mr Quilter said evidence of humans using the area dates back to the Stone Age, and King Henry VIII had a castle in the park, the remains of which are now buried.
He said: “We will be asking people to join archeological excavations based on evidence from previous excavation to learn more about the history.
“Over the five years, there will be a programme of events such as walks and talks, to encourage people to take part in the project.”
Mr Quilter cited the Friends of Ampthill Park group, and the investment which will enable a team of volunteers to train as ambassadors and guides.
The plan also incorporated the creation of a forest school to allow all local schools access to an “outdoor classroom”.
A programme of youth engagement will further enhance the opportunities for training and activities.
The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund.
Ampthill Town Council learned the grant had been awarded on Monday.
It is part of a wider investment of £34.5million of Lottery money to 13 parks across the UK, which a recent report states are at risk of decline unless new ways of funding and maintaining them are found.
The restoration project will begin in November and is expected to last five years.
To get involved with the project and for more information about the Friends group, email g.quilter@ ampthilltowncouncil.org.uk
>> The park came alive over the weekend as thousands enjoyed Amprocks, headlined by the Happy Mondays, Proms on Saturday and a family gala day on Sunday. For a full report and more pictures, see pages 6 and 7.