A PARK'S historical importance has been recognised with an inclusion in the English Heritage Parks and Gardens Register.

Stockton's Victorian Rop-ner Park, which celebrates its 110th anniversary next year, has been accepted as a Grade II site on the register.

Martin Jenkins, Stockton Borough Council's parks and countryside officer, said: "Ropner Park is a regionally important park in terms of design.

"It contains fine examples of Victorian design and landscape features and English Heritage were impressed that, even today, the park still retains all its original layout and structural planting with the trees and shrubs.

"We're fortunate to have such a facility situated here in Stockton."

The land for the park was donated to the town by shipping magnate Sir Robert Ropner.

Layout of the park began in July 1881 and it was officially opened in June 1893 by the Duke and Duchess of York.

The council is awaiting a final decision on its application for a Heritage Lottery bid for £3.5m for a restoration scheme for the park.

If the bid is approved, the money would be spent on restoring original features such as the fountain and the lake.

A new park pavilion would also act as a base for a park ranger service.

Inclusion on the register means that English Heritage must be consulted about any future proposals for the development of the park.