ALMOST £2 million is being sought from the National Lottery to help restore a historic Devon park.

Stover Park in Newton Abbot dates back to the 18th century and is seen as a site of ‘national importance,’ but its heritage features are in need of improvement.

After developing proposals which will cost around £3.6 million, the county council’s ruling cabinet has now approved the request for National Lottery Heritage funding to go towards its ‘Restoring Stover Park’ project.

The bid for the maximum of £1.9 million of funding aims to provide positive environmental impacts, preserve local heritage, support measures to reduce carbon and improve health and wellbeing.

According to a council report presented to the cabinet on Wednesday: ‘The indication is that the proposed restoration and enhancement works for Stover Park are of national significance and worthy of [National Lottery] support.’

Although further funding will also need to be found by the county council, which may include some of its own money, work could start in September.

At the heart of Stover Park’s landscape is a 10-acre naturalised freshwater lake, designated as a site of special scientific interest due to its importance for dragonflies and invertebrates.

The report said the park, which additionally features a granite gatehouse/lodge, ‘is also of great importance for recreation and public enjoyment.’

But it warned that a ‘combination of environmental pollution, resource constraints, and the passage of time has resulted in a situation whereby the heritage features are ‘at risk’ (as assessed by Historic England), and the lake is in ‘unfavourable condition’ (as assessed by Natural England).

“These nationally important historic, landscape and wildlife assets require investment to safeguard their value and ensure that they continue into the future.’

The plan aims to de-silt the park’s lake to improve water quality, undertake conservation work to safeguard the granite lodge, while also upgrading the visitor centre and improving the car park.

Cabinet member for the environment and climate change, Councillor Andrea Davis (Conservative, Combe Martin Rural), said: ‘I think this is an excellent proposal. I think this is in line with what we’re trying to achieve with biodiversity, with carbon, with it giving people more opportunity to improve their health and well-being.

‘It was very, very heavily used and enjoyed during the pandemic when we were allowed out for our one walk a day and I think the appreciation of these spaces has grown thanks to the pandemic and the fact we are all taking perhaps a little more interest in our overall health and wellbeing and looking after our own health outcomes.’

Members of the cabinet unanimously approved the submission of the bid, in addition to potential grant funding from National Highways and other bodies.