Most people would agree that Gunnersbury Park has something special for everyone, whether it is the rich local history, the many community events, a place to walk the dog, or just a beautiful green landscape to relax and enjoy a walk in.
And, thanks to new management and an exciting refurbishment project (including the restoration of the listed buildings such as the large mansion, pictured above during works), which will see an exciting mix of arts and cultural events hosted in the park from next year, the future is looking even brighter.
Joint owners Ealing and Hounslow councils have confirmed that a newly-formed Gunnersbury Community Interest Company (CIC) will be responsible for the management of the park and museum under a 25-year lease.
The site will continue to be owned jointly by the two councils but the not-for-profit CIC will take over the day-to-day operations.
Under the CIC, Gunnersbury Park and Museum will remain free to the public. It will be responsible for overseeing the park’s educational, leisure and cultural opportunities.
The lease includes a licence that will allow a range of events to take place in the park, with any money raised from these being ploughed back into managing the park and museum.
A café is due to open in January and a new sports centre is scheduled to be built in 2018. New tennis courts and an array of new outdoor sports pitches, including all weather pitches, will also be installed next year.
Gunnersbury Park has been open to the public since 1926, and Ealing and Hounslow councils have been working alongside the Heritage Lottery fund to ensure it can continue to be an asset for residents and visitors long into the future.
‘Adding to the rich cultural heritage’
Ealing Council leader Julian Bell said: “We know how important Gunnersbury Park is to the local community and creating a social enterprise like this CIC to manage it will allow the park to remain a wonderful and much-loved, green space for residents.
“It will also mean Gunnersbury will fulfil its potential as a venue for exciting cultural events, and revenue raised from such events will go back into maintaining the park’s costs. Under these new plans Gunnersbury will host a range of events, from larger concerts to community organised activities; all adding to the rich cultural heritage offered here in Ealing.
“The ongoing renovation of the park will also see new sports, leisure and heritage facilities open over the next two years, which will benefit local residents of all ages.”
Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, said: “Hounslow and Ealing Councils want to increase the number of users and visitors to the park after re-investing significantly in its regeneration, which has included HLF [Heritage Lottery Fund] and Big Lottery Fund grants.
“There has also been a limited number of annual park events for local communities and visitors.
“The licence was approved to allow the new management body, Gunnersbury CIC, to be able to hold more events in Gunnersbury Park from 2018, the CIC’s first year of operations.
“The Council’s Licensing Panel placed conditions on any events that may be held after residents made very effective representations at the Licensing Hearing meeting.
“This included a condition that all medium, large and special events will have a gap of a minimum 21 days. Smaller events of no more than 499 people will be able to apply for a temporary licence to have bar facilities. A requirement for special contractors to be used to ensure all litter and infrastructure to be cleared within 48 hours of an event finishing.
“The decision was made in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003. This new licence will allow wider community use of the park, and any income generated from commercial events will support its ongoing operating costs.”
“This new licence will allow wider community use of the park, and any income generated from commercial events will support its ongoing operating costs.”