|Lottery Funders Give Green Light for Mesnes Park Development Plans
Plans for the transformation of Mesnes Park, Wigan have been given the green light to move ahead today by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund.
Wigan Council, in partnership with Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust has been awarded a development grant of £124,000 which will enable them to move forward with plans for a £2.9million scheme to transform and regenerate the much-loved park. The funding for Mesnes Park is among 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.
Rodney Hill, Chief Executive of Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, says, "We are tremendously proud of Mesnes Park, but this investment will go a long way towards revitalising the park and will provide the whole community with a host of opportunities to become involved in leisure and cultural activities close to the town centre. As part of our vision to Get Wigan Active we want to release the potential of our parks and ensure they are developed into top quality civic spaces. This announcement is a huge boost to everyone involved in the project."
Councillor Brian Baldwin, Cabinet Member for Culture also welcomed the announcement, "This is great news for Wigan and the many people who visit and live nearby. 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."
Councillor Baldwin continues, "The success in obtaining this funding is testament to the hard work and commitment of WLCT's Parks and Countryside team who have worked for the past eight years on this project to secure the future of this flagship park. It has also been made possible through the fantastic work of the Friends of Mesnes Park. I would like to pay tribute to all their help and support over many years. Clearly the passion we all share for Mesnes 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 scheme is expected to include the restoration of historic features such as the bandstand, pavilion and entrance lodge, as well as new security measures and lighting. Plans also involve the appointment of a dedicated Park Ranger to look after the site, and for a wide range of activities for the local community to get involved in.
The popular green space is a classic example of a Victorian urban park. It was Wigan's first municipal park and 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 (WOW) Festival.
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.
Tony Jones, Heritage Lottery Fund Manager for the North West said, "We're delighted that Wigan has been given the green light to develop their plans. Heritage Lottery Fund money has already played a vital role in the renaissance of the UK's parks over the past decade but there is so much more to be done. This new scheme is designed to get the local community really involved and to ensure a much-improved environment and standard of living for all those who use the park."
Michelle McNamee, Big Lottery Fund Head of North West region, added, "Parks are a vital free space in which people of all generations and backgrounds can come together. Whether you walk the dog or like to jog, this investment will make a huge difference to your park by transforming it into a more attractive and safer place to be."
Sue Turner, Secretary of the Friends of Mesnes Park group, says, "The Friends are absolutely delighted to hear of this great news. Thanks to this funding, we are a step closer to achieving our vision to ensure Mesnes Park remains a people's park for the 21st Century. This is a great example of partnership working and shows what can be achieved when people work closely together."
Grants in the 'Parks for People' scheme range from £250,000 to £5million with two rounds of funding each year. The next deadline for applications is 30 September 2006 with the next round of grants due to be awarded in March and September 2007.