Major funding boost for park gardening unit

A SPECIALIST Hepscott gardening facility is in line for major investment to expand its services

Northumberland County Council previously set aside £340,000 to develop its Hepscott Park Horticultural Unit, which provides services for people with learning disabilities.

The money will be used to refurbish buildings, improve disabled access and restore greenhouses.

And now a further investment of up to £115,000 is planned to demolish under-used brick outbuildings and make room for a log cabin style cafe and sales area.

The extra cash will come from the accumulated surplus from trading activities in all of the council’s learning disability day services, such as catering, soap making and furniture restoration.

And any spare money will be used to support the proposed re-organisation of such services into a social enterprise.

The Hepscott Park unit currently has 42 users, with a budget of £212,660.

It has a number of contracts for garden make-overs and grounds maintenance, and also sells plants and produce.

The council says that trading opportunities are limited due to the lack of a ‘shop front’ and the poor condition of the facility, but it hopes that with investment the unit could become a small specialist garden centre.