THE FINAL phase to restore Wigan’s ‘jewel in the crown’ Victorian attraction is imminent.
Ruling Metro councillors will later this week be asked to agree their contribution to a £2.6m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) package which will rejuvenate the remaining landmarks in Mesnes Park.
The deal will see the lodge, bowling pavilion, the statue of Sir Francis Sharp Powell and the Coalbrookdale Fountain refurbished.
Chief Executive of Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust Rodney Hill said the deal may prove to be the “last chance” for such an overhaul with public money for decades to come.
He said: “Securing HLF funding to implement phase two of the restoration project in Mesnes Park is a major achievement.
“This grant ward offer is the second HLF grant award secured for the restoration project, which is in itself a unique funding arrangement and is testament to the ongoing support to the project from the HLF.
“Phase two is a unique opportunity and likely to be the last opportunity for the park to secure HLF funding through their current Parks for People programme.”
The project will provide a high quality public park for the residents of the borough and significantly reduce the repairs and maintenance liabilities of the council, in particular the derelict entrance lodge and footpath network.
Heritage Lottery will pay £1.972m of the costs of phase two - the full requested grant, while the Metro will contribute £300,000 and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust £234,000, along with £100,000 from unsecured sponsorship.
Of this package, more than £579,000 will be spent on the extensive restoration of the distinctive Entrance Lodge.
There will also be a £57,000 lighting scheme and £76,000 to restore the Powell monument and a further £100,000 on the Pulham Rockwork.
The Coalbrookdale Fountain will cost more than £325,000 to replace while footpath repairs will cost a further £500,000.
The already-agreed funding package included a £200,000 contribution from the council’s Capital Programme which, with the Government Cuts programme is no longer available.
It also included a Section 106 cash from the Pagefield Mill housing development that has yet to start so be paid.
The entrance lodge, a Listed Building, is in a poor state of repair and classed as unsafe. So, even if it wasn’t restored, capital would have to be spent on making it safe.
Any application to flatten it would require special permission from English Heritage and that is highly unlikely.
Declining the grant at this stage would have an impact on Wigan’s future Lottery applications.