The Westgate Parks in Canterbury received their first Green Flag yesterday (Tuesday 18 July).

And with Duncan Down in Whitstable getting a Green Flag for the 12th successive year and Whitstable Castle achieving green heritage status, Canterbury district is celebrating a fantastic hat-trick.

Westgate Parks – comprising the Westgate Gardens, Toddlers’ Cove, Bingley Island and Tannery Field – has benefitted from a £1 million plus Parks for People Heritage Lottery Fund scheme, led by the city council over five years, which has seen the restoration of many aspects of the four parks.

Much of this has been achieved by the hard work of volunteers, who have painted, planted and litter picked their way to transforming previously gloomy underpasses with welcoming bright new designs and lighting, monitored and managed the river banks and overseen the installation of the new and extensive timber play area.

Bridges and pathways have been repaired and improved, and a new 'physic' herbal garden has been created with the help of the Simon Langton Girls' School. Publications including a Tree Trail and a new Explorer Trail have been produced to increase awareness and understanding of the natural and historic value of the parks.

The Green Flag is a national scheme that recognises parks and green spaces that have high standards of management, follow environmentally-friendly practices and involve the community to create attractive places for people and wildlife to enjoy.

Chairman of the council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker, said: “We are so pleased to have won our first Green Flag for the Westgate Parks. It’s well deserved recognition for the hard work of the volunteers and council and Serco staff who have transformed the parks into the wonderful places they are today.

“We also congratulate everybody at Duncan Down and Whitstable Castle on their achievements. It’s great news that the district has three awards this year.”

The Westgate Parks Green Flag comes hot on the heels of its TripAdvisor 2017 certificate of excellence in recognition of the great reviews on its website.

Meanwhile, Reculver Country Park, which first achieved a Green Flag in 2003, takes a break this year while the city council invests in new parking facilities and a refurbished visitor centre opening in August 2017. These enhancements are in addition to the popular play area which opened to the public in May 2016, and form part of a wider regeneration project to improve visitor amenities at Reculver.