Preston Park Rockery has been named the best park in England and shortlisted in the UK’s Best Park, as voted by YOU! 2016 award after a search by national charity Fields in Trust to find the country’s favourite local green space. The win was announced at the Fields in Trust Awards Ceremony last night at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.
The Brighton & Hove park received the highest public vote in the England section of the award alongside shortlisted parks in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Rouken Glen Park in East Renfrewshire won the UK vote overall to take the 2016 title.
The competition asked members of the public to nominate their favourite parks, with any local green space across the UK eligible, followed by a three week public vote between all those parks nominated. A total of 214 nominations were received across the UK with over 10,000 votes cast.
Chair of the Environment, Transport & Sustainability, Cllr Gill Mitchell said: “It’s wonderful news that the Rockery has won Best Park in England. The rockery is a beautiful part of Brighton & Hove and the council staff and volunteers are getting the recognition they deserve for all their wonderful work on it.”
Preston Park Rockery is Britain's largest municipal rock garden, although only two acres in size the woodland area is planted up with 400 tree whips and 25,000 English Bluebells providing a haven for insects and birds. It is cared for by Brighton & Hove City Council staff and volunteers.
Garden Manager, Andy Jeavons said: “I have looked after the site for nearly 17 years and I have seen some wonderful changes during that time. Set among a beautiful backdrop of ornamental trees such as Handkerchief trees and Foxglove trees, the garden offers many different areas to explore. I love the winding stone pathways that twist and turn, offering a new area around each corner, whether that's a small patch of secluded grass or the stunning views across north Brighton from the very top of the garden.
“And if all that wasn't enough, I have a great team of volunteers who come along once a week to achieve all of this. People who given up their spare time in order to make the garden what it is and have become not only colleagues but wonderful friends over the years.”
The Fields in Trust Awards, now in their fifth year, are a celebration of the achievements of individuals and organisations who have worked over the last year to ensure that everyone has access to protected outdoor recreational space.
Helen Griffiths, Fields in Trust Chief Executive, said: “Many congratulations to Preston Park Rockery on being named the England winner of our UK’s Best Park, as voted by YOU! 2016 award. It’s a beautiful green space and well deserving of the accolade. The number of parks nominated this year and the votes cast across the competition show just how much the public cherish their local green spaces.”