The Coastal Park and The Leas provide a key leisure and recreational facility for the town, which helps to contribute to a good quality of life for residents, and an attractive destination for visitors.
In May 2000, the first phase of the £1.2 million 11-hectare Coastal Park was opened to tremendous acclaim. The regeneration of the park was funded by SEEDA, Shepway District Council and the European Union, and includes the largest free children’s adventure playground in the south-east, a 300-seat outdoor amphitheatre and attractive landscaping. Since its transformation, the park has attracted in the region of 500,000 visitors per year.
A further £1.4 million was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund in late 2003 to improve the eastern end of the park. Initial work, including land preparation, started in February 2005. This phase includes pine avenues, flower gardens, picnic sites, furniture and information about the park’s wildlife and history. The second phase was officially opened in May 2006.
The Coastal Park is now an essential resource that helps to improve physical links between the park, the seafront and harbour and the town centre. In addition, it provides a unique backdrop to the recently completed Coastal Protection Scheme, which has created sheltered swimming areas and a walkway and vantage point to view the coastline and Folkestone townscape that attracts visitors to the town. The deposition of new shingle has reduced the current drop between the promenade and the beach, improving access and reducing the risk of accidents.
An historic entertainment complex built in the late 1920s in the Neo-Grec style, the Leas Cliff Hall looks out over the Coastal Park across the Channel. This facility benefited from a multi-million pound refurbishment in 2003 and now provides the largest conference and entertainment complex in Kent.
To complement the regeneration of the Coastal Park, an International Sculpture Triennial came to the town in summer 2008, which provided a world-class attraction. A number of the projects were located at the Coastal Park and The Leas. This initiative was driven forward by a board of trustees including Roger De Haan; Dr Stephen Deuchar, Director – Tate Britain; Timothy Llewellyn, Director – Henry Moore Foundation and the Viscount of Folkestone.
Landscaped gardens with stunning floral displays, large adventure play area, easy access to the beach and The Leas. Summer events at the Amphitheatre. Winner of the prestigious Green Flag award 2007/08 and 2009/10. Winner of Kent Design Awards Landscape category 2007, Best Regional & Best Overall Regeneration Project – Royal Town Planning Institute 2007.
Gardens – formal planting changing with the seasons, summer wild flower meadows, spring bulb displays, pine avenues.
Adventure play area – largest free play area in the south east with rocking boats, climbing walls, tunnels, wobbly bridges, tube slides, toddler construction area, sand diggers and a sunken pirate ship.
Amphitheatre – free community led events during the summer from within the confines of Grecian columns against the spectacular backdrop of the English Channel.
Picnic areas – dotted throughout the park with special bbq facilities where permissible (stainless steel protection plates and disposal bins are provided in bbq areas).