Wednesday 19th December 2007
Ambitious plans to transform Wigan’s Mesnes Park into a true ‘Park for the People’ were given a multi million pound boost today thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).
Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, in partnership with Wigan Council, has been awarded a grant of £1.8m to transform and regenerate the much-loved park. Match-funding from other sources including Wigan Council, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and a contribution from Fredericks Ice Cream will take the investment in the park to around £3.4m.
The funding for Mesnes Park is one of the first from the ‘Parks for People’ programme, a new scheme which is designed to invest lottery good cause money in parks right across UK. HLF case officers commended Wigan’s application as exemplary and highlighted it as a fine example of partnership work with the Trust, Council, The Friends of Mesnes Park and countless others playing their part in the Mesnes Park bid.
Mesnes is a classic example of a Victorian urban park. It is a Grade II listed park and was opened back in 1878 as a ‘green lung’ for the industrial town. Today it receives around two million visitors a year and plays host to an array of popular events including the Wigan One World Festival.
Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust Chief Executive Rodney Hill said:
“We are delighted that this funding has been approved; it is validation from the Heritage and Big Lottery Funds of our passion for parks. Mesnes Park is a key site for us and we are sure that this investment will benefit the people of Wigan for many years to come. This is a project that has gripped everyone working at the Trust for a number of years now. The dedication and passion of the Parks Regeneration Team and everyone involved is a fine example to us all – I commend them for their fantastic work and look forward to seeing their efforts come to fruition.”
Stage one of the Mesnes Park Restoration project will include the regeneration of historic features such as the bandstand, pavilion, shelter, Dalton Steps and main pathways, as well as revamping the play shack and developing a new training centre. Plans also involve the appointment of a dedicated Park Ranger and enhanced daily management and maintenance. Work on the restoration project is scheduled to begin in late spring 2008.
Wigan Council’s leisure champion, Councillor Brian Baldwin, said:
“Mesnes Park is a much loved green oasis, but after generations of use, it is in need of this restoration. Thanks to investment from the Lottery, we can now go ahead and develop our plans further.
“I would like to pay tribute to the Friends of Mesnes Park for all their help and support over many years. Clearly the passion we all share for the park is beginning to pay off and its legacy will be a green space in the centre of Wigan we can all be rightly proud of. The hard work begins now!”
The success of this initial funding bid means that a second bid for funding will be submitted to the HLF and BIG in spring 2008. If successful the second bid could bring the total investment in Mesnes Park to a staggering £6m.
Chair of the Friends Of Mesnes Park Sue Turner said: “This is a great day for Mesnes Park and for the Wigan Borough as a whole. It has been a long process to get where we are today I would like to offer my thanks and congratulations to all the staff at Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust who have worked day and night to achieve this goal. This funding will secure Mesnes Park as a true People’s Park for the 21st Century.”
The ground-breaking Parks for People programme has been designed to improve the local environment and encourage communities to get actively involved in their local park. The two Lottery Funds are working in partnership to deliver this multi-million pound investment of up to £160million over three years.
The Big Lottery Fund is investing £90million and up to £70million is coming from HLF. The scheme will be administered by the HLF, which has been regenerating historic parks for the past 10 years to the tune of over £400million. The Big Lottery Fund has invested over £514million in environment initiatives.
Heritage Lottery Fund Casework Manager for the North West Peter Fellows said:
"The great thing about parks is that they are just as much a part of people's lives today as they were for the Victorian's who created them. Today's news is a green light for Wigan to restore Mesnes Park to its former glory and create a host of new ways for everyone to enjoy the green space for generations to come."
Big Lottery Fund Head of North West region Michelle McNamee added:
“Parks are an important resource for every community, and the Parks for People programme aims to make them more attractive, safer and accessible to everyone. This is a fantastic project, and one that will bring enjoyment and benefits to many local people for years to come.”
For further information about the Mesnes Park Restoration Project contact Andrew Bond – Parks Regeneration Manager on 01942 488471 or email email@example.com or visit www.wlct.org/mesnespark.