WARD Park’s planned upgrade is to cost £5.5m over the next two-and-a-half years, officials have revealed.

The much-loved Bangor landmark’s overhaul kicks off this month with a long-delayed clean-up of its pond, dredging and de-silting it to create a sparkling new look in time for Christmas.

The next phase of the long-term revamp is set to begin in winter of next year, and will transform the look and feel of Ward Park as a whole.

It will see the park’s upper pond and island expanded, with new decking and a boardwalk built at both ponds.

The revamp also includes new pathways along with children’s play areas and educational spots, updated bird habitats and aviaries, replacement pedestrian bridges and a bevy of new seats and picnic benches along with modernised signs and lighting.

Directly paid for by Ards and North Down Council, the overhaul has been on the cards since 2015 and was approved by planners two-and-a-half years ago.

After repeated delays, the pond dredging is only now getting underway, with the rest of the project to follow starting in either late 2024 or early 2025.

The 37-acre park is now around a century old, and forms a ‘green lung’ in the centre of the city that’s been beloved by generations of residents and visitors alike – and the overhaul is designed to give it a new look for the future.

A council spokeswoman stated that the revamp is designed to ‘largely retain the traditional landscape and recreational benefits’ of Ward Park, while ‘sympathetically creating a modern park environment that will enhance biodiversity and help safeguard the park for future generations’.

Added the spokeswoman: “Following the completion of the de-silting works, we look forward to progressing the other elements of the Environmental Improvement Scheme. It is currently anticipated that this will begin in the winter of 2024/5.

“We will provide updates through the council website and social media channels. There will also be several information sessions in advance of the works, where the public will have the opportunity to engage with the council team delivering the project and put ideas forward for the park improvements to the team.”