Revised contract awarded for new cafe, playground and landscaping at Ellington Park

How the new building will look

A contract to build a new cafe, restored terrace, new playground and landscaping in Ellington Park has been awarded to  BJF Group, Thanet District Council and Friends of Ellington Park (FOEP) have announced.

Works are due to start this month and are scheduled for completion in early summer 2021. The project will mean the creation of a new community café and toilets, landscape works to conserve the terrace and bring back the Cheal’s landscape scheme and new signage, alongside critical repairs to the pathways. The works will complement the specialist restoration of the bandstand which started in June.

The tender process was undertaken in two stages and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in a four month delay. In February, six contractors priced for the works however, all were significantly over budget, by approximately £500,000.

Through a series of meetings with the design team and the funder (National Lottery Heritage Fund), Thanet District Council and FOEP decided to keep the core features of the park’s master plan but had to make the difficult decision to revise the scope of work.

Restoration project at Ellington Park

This created a second stage to the tender process and new submissions were reviewed on cost (60%) and quality (40%) resulting in a winning tender of £1.4million.

Changes to the project include:

  • Keeping the wildlife area as it is currently. New hedge laying and wildlife gardening will be undertaken by the community and volunteers with support from the main contractor.
  • Removing the petanque finish to the community square next to the cafe.
  • Removing the Pulhamite repair as it is in fair condition.
  • Reducing the budget for activities in the park which will now be carried out via partners and FOEP reducing potential community engagement.

The building of a new cafe and toilet facilities is to ensure that people can fully enjoy the park. Restoring the park’s heritage of the Victorian terrace, formal gardens (known in the original Cheal design as axis) and the renovation of the bandstand, is aimed at long-term preservation of the park.

Photo via TDC

BJF Group, a Kent based company, impressed the assessment panel with their understanding of the details of the project, the quality of their previous work and competitive pricing.

Andrew Garrett, Head of Construction at BJF Group, said: “We are delighted to be working with Thanet District Council and the Friends of Ellington Park to deliver the Ellington Park project.  We look forward to working with the community to restore the park to its former glory and leave a legacy for generations to come.”

Cllr Steve Albon, Cabinet Member for Operational Services, said: “It’s exciting to see that the major phase of this restoration project is now happening. Getting to this point is an important milestone. While there have been some challenges, in particular having to revise the project scope to ensure it can be delivered, we are now going ahead.

“It’s testament to the strength and effectiveness of the partnership between the Friends of Ellington Park and Thanet District Council that they’ve been able to conduct the procurement process despite COVID-19. I’d also like to acknowledge the flexibility of our funder, which has allowed us to revisit the budget allocations and reduce the scope in order to ensure that the project can progress at this time.”