Dunstable church gets a garden makeover as part of town centre transformation project

The works are part of a scheme to improve the town centre

By Lynn Hughes
Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 12:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 12:32 am

The Square Methodist Church is receiving a garden makeover as improvements to Dunstable town centre continue.

The plans to refresh and landscape the gardens surrounding the church complement the wider works to transform Dunstable town centre. This includes the High Street project which is making this thoroughfare pedestrian friendly and more attractive with planting and landscaping.

Enhancing the look and feel of the public areas is an important part of rejuvenation plans for Dunstable.

The new improved site

During the High Street improvements Central Bedfordshire Council became aware of the church scheme and decided it could help. Using machinery from its scheme, the old gardens were cleared and there was support with the supply of materials and technical advice from the council’s work sponsor Henderson and Taylor. This helped the budget go further.

The church scheme has been designed and managed by Dunstable Town Council in partnership with The Square Methodist Church. Additional funding has come from four ward councillors using their funding from the Central Bedfordshire Council’s Ward Councillor Grant Scheme, Dunstable Joint Committee, Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) scheme and church match funding.

Work started in October and the first phase is complete. The overgrown northern section was cleared to open the space and replaced with a range of specimen trees and ferns in keeping with the character of the church. In addition, box topiary plants now feature around the central memorial stone, the stonework has been carefully cleaned, and a layer of pea shingle mulch has been applied.

Churchgoers and residents have been impressed with the transformation and have provided ongoing support to the project.

The garden before the makeover

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “The Dunstable High Street improvement scheme is progressing well and we are on track to complete the works in the spring next year. We always want to help the local community wherever we can and that’s why I was delighted to see our team stepping in to offer help to this important community project. The gardens at the church are being transformed and our assistance has made a real difference.”

Nina Johnson, Minister at The Square Methodist Church, said: “We had been discussing doing something with the church gardens, but nothing as new and creative as the design that was developed. The members of the church are absolutely delighted by the new garden. And we are grateful to the town council who met with the whole church and kept us informed and involved with the project, and for our partners who have made this possible with their generosity of time and effort as well as finance. The project has completely transformed that side of the church and the public space. It's fantastic!”

The next stage of works will include additional planters and an enhancement of the south side of the garden.

The full scheme is scheduled for completion by the end of January.