At the heart of the town of Bishop’s Stortford is the River Stort and adjacent to the river is Waytemore Castle, built by the Normans with the remnants of a moat. Sworders Field was gifted by the late Joe Brazier in 1928 to the local authority for public use and this area of open space surrounds the Castle and the banks of the River Stort. The area includes large open green spaces for fairs and concerts, children’s play area, skateboard park, Castle Gardens including a paddling pool, public toilets, community rooms and tennis courts. Laurie Wood Architects and Liz Lake Associates were appointed by Bishop’s Stortford Town Council to produce a selection of landscape design ideas for revitalising this green public space. Central to the brief was that the proposals should be capable of being implemented over a period of time as and when funding was available.
With a host of experience in landscape design for leisure facilities, Liz Lake Associates developed a wide range of proposals including an enhanced paddling pool, multi-use bandstand/performance area and moorings for leisure boats. Other important proposals included a riverside café, toilets (to include accessible toilets) as well as path enhancements to connect important areas and recognise desire lines. Looking at the needs of different users, we also made proposals for family picnic areas, feature planting, a BMX Track and a graffiti wall. A dropped path was suggested to provide river access and provisions were outlined for better drainage and power and water facilities for events. A landscape treatment was proposed for the moat as well as a northern extension to the re-watering of the moat. Liz Lake Associates provided three outline sketches for the area and the Town Council discussed and agreed a landscape design scheme, the details for which were worked up for public consultation. Based on the detailed proposals developed by Liz Lake Associates, public consultation took place at the annual carnival on Sworders Field and the display boards and questionnaires were on show in the Tourist Information Office.
” The council recognises that Sworders Field – together with the associated green spaces comprising Castle Gardens, The Meads and Grange Paddocks – is an important and central feature of the town. “
James Parker – BSTC chief executive officer