THE future of Gunnersbury Park is hanging in the balance as Hounslow Council and Ealing Council struggle to negotiate a regeneration bid.
The park has fallen into neglect but could be rejuvenated if the two councils, which jointly own the land and share responsibility for its upkeep, successfully bid for a match funding grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
But Hounslow Council has only put forward £500,000 so far, compared to £5 million by Ealing Council.
The project could take up to 15 years and cost as much as £45 million to complete. It would involve refurbishing Gunnersbury Museum and its galleries and making better use of buildings such as The Orangery.
Julian Bell, leader at Ealing, said: “I think this represents a good opportunity for us to invest in one of the really outstanding green spaces and parks in the borough.
"We can argue if it’s in the borough but I regard it as our park and it really is a park that administrations in the past did not invest in when they should have.”
Mr Bell said that there was consensus across all parties at Ealing that it should it make an effort to ‘rescue our heritage’ by pushing forward with the bid.
He added he had been encouraged by early discussions with English Heritage to press ahead, and that he was confident Hounslow Council would come forward in giving its full support to the scheme.
David Millican, opposition leader for Ealing Conservatives said he was in favour of the regeneration but added: “I’m not sure that I’m quite as confident about Hounslow.
“We know from experience with Walpole and Pitzhanger park that Heritage Lottery want strong commitment from people.”
Mr Bell said he has been in recent talks with Hounslow leader Jagdish Sharma about how the council could increase it’s contribution, and that he believed the authority would commit more funds to the project.
Councillor Corinna Smart, leader for the environment at Hounslow, said: “We are fully committed to the regeneration of Gunnersbury Park, and have been working closely with our counterparts in Ealing to agree a way forward.
“This week we agreed to apply for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable restoration works to begin, and enhance existing facilities.
“As the planning authority, we are in a prime position to explore the financial options available, to help restore the park for future generations to enjoy.”