Work gets under way in the city centre’s Victoria Park this month as part of a plan to improve its value as a community space, a wildlife haven and a much-loved part of the city’s heritage.
The Portsmouth City Council plan, developed with the local community and made possible by a £2.4m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, includes building a new community hub, improving the aviary, restoring historic monuments and creating a new play area.
This month 27 trees will be planted. Some will replace trees recently lost to disease or other causes, but overall the total number of trees in the park will increase by around 20.
Some will form part of a new nature area in the northern quarter of the park, which will also include a wildlife meadow. Others will help restore the historic avenue of trees running from the train station entrance to the Queen Street entrance, which was part of the park’s original design.
In the new year, work will begin on building a community hub with accessible toilets, a meeting space, a volunteering office and an outside sheltered area. The hub will be on the site of the current council depot, opening up a new area to the public.
Renovation of the aviary will also begin, making it a better environment and more engaging for visitors. The birds in the aviary are being moved for their welfare, and will have temporary homes for about a year. Some are going to the city’s College Park and others – including the peacock and two peahens – will go to a local wildlife centre.
Other work will include restoring the original railings, improving paths and gates, installing information panels, adding play items and restoring monuments, including the fountain.
At some times during the work, areas of the park may need to be sectioned off.
Construction and renovation work is expected to take around a year.
Cllr Steve Pitt, the council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development, said: “The team have been working hard behind the scenes, preparing for work to start. It’s great that we will soon start to see exciting changes that will make Victoria Park an even more valuable and attractive green space for local people. We want to enhance the heritage in the park, make it more of a home for wild creatures, and ensure it’s a real part of community life.”
Stuart McLeod, director England – London and South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Regenerating and conserving public parks remains a high priority for us as we commit to promoting more environmentally sustainable heritage and increasing people’s health and wellbeing. Thanks to National Lottery players, we are proud to support Portsmouth City Council in their renovation of Victoria Park to create a community hub that is accessible to all.”
The project to revitalise the park is due to end in 2026. It was launched after more than 2,500 park users, residents, local organisations and community groups shared ideas through a citywide survey, focus groups and interviews. These ideas were developed into detailed proposals that were submitted to The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The project will cost about £3.2m in total, with the rest of the funding sourced by the council.
More activities in the park are planned, including community fairs, markets, family fun days and community-led events as well as heritage tours, community gardening sessions, litter-picks and wildlife workshops. There will be educational programmes for schools and events to promote health and wellbeing.
Residents can become Friends of Victoria Park or can volunteer in roles including event steward, historical researcher or social media officer. The council is working with organisations supporting veterans, people with poor mental health and people with disabilities to encourage a wide range of volunteering experiences.
To find out more about the Victoria Park project, the history and heritage of the park, and how to get involved in park life, residents can:
- visit the park website
- sign up to the Victoria Park newsletter
- email the project team
- follow the park on: