Two projects to help restore an ‘at risk’ historic Devon park near Newton Abbot have been approved.

A section of the former Serpentine Lake at Stover Country Park is being restored for the first time since disappearing in the 1950s, while the park’s visitor centre will be extended.

The works form part of the ‘Restoring Stover Park’ project, using money awarded from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to enhance the park for local communities, visitors and wider tourism.

Devon County Council’s development management committee approved the projects today, Wednesday. The council owns the park, which comprises part of the 80,000-acre estate acquired by entrepreneur James Templer in 1765.

It was placed on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register in 2009 as most of its important historic features were, and still are, in poor condition, with many internal and external views having been lost as a result of development and encroaching vegetation.

While the original Serpentine Lake is not being entirely restored, the council says the proposal will have “beneficial impacts on the visual and landscape setting of the park, resulting in clear benefits to the registered park and garden and the setting of the associated listed assets.”

Roughly 300 metres of the former lake, between Serpentine Bridge and the Liverton Brook to the west, will be permanently restored. The depth of the water is proposed to be around 30cm, although this will be looked at further with the possibility of some sections being deeper to improve biodiversity.

The visitor centre extension will include expanding the central space of the building as well as a new entrance foyer, toilets and storage/plant areas. There will also be a new workshop building, underground water treatment plant and improvements to the public car park.

Teigngrace Parish Council objected to the plan due to what it believed was a lack of supporting infrastructure and the potential for further congestion caused by the likelihood of more visitors.

On the lake restoration, it questioned the ecological benefits and suggested an ‘increased flood risk’, though a flood risk assessment found there will be ‘no increase in flood risk as a result of the proposal’.

Some concerns were also raised about the loss of dozens of trees for the works, but a number of replacements will be planted according to officers.

Chief planner Mike Deaton concluded: ‘Considering the context of the setting of Stover Country Park, which contains 114 acres of woodland, the improvements to public accessibility offered by the scheme, the delivery of overall biodiversity improvements arising from the Restoring Stover Park project, and the control offered by the suggested planning conditions, it is considered that the planning balance is in favour of approving the application.’

The committee agreed, backing the plans subject to conditions.