Mesnes Park hits the jackpot

Years of dreams are set to become reality after the plan to restore Wigan's historic Mesnes Park hit the jackpot for the second time.

The announcement of a 12,000 development grant from the Lottery is now expected to trigger another 3.1m in makeover aid to add to millions already in the kitty.

In 2007 the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund awarded 1.8m to regenerate the park.

Funding from Wigan Council, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and Frederick's Ice Cream saw the total investment for Phase One reach 3.4m.

This part of the project will see the pavilion and bandstand restored to their former glory, the Dalton steps repaired and a multi-purpose play shack refurbished when work starts early next year.

Phase Two will see the entrance lodge fully restored and support community activities.

The main entrance, pillars, gates, railings and footpaths will also be restored and a sports zone created, including a crazy golf course, multi-use games area, refurbished tennis courts and an extreme sports zone. There will be new lighting and CCTV.

The latest grant announcement from the Lottery forms the basis for a further 3.1m investment.

An announcement on whether Wigan has secured 1.9m funding from Heritage Lottery and the Big Lottery is expected next year.

If the application is successful it will then be "match funded" via the council and trust. Rodney Hill, chief executive of Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, said: "Our dedicated officers have spent the last five years working hard to secure this level of funding.

"This latest announcement prepares the groundwork for a further multi-million pound investment.

"At the heart of everything they have planned and designed has remained one single question: 'how would the original designer have responded to the task?'

Click next page for more ..."The dedication, hard work and passion shown by our parks regeneration team and the generosity from the Heritage Lottery Fund will ensure Mesnes Park remains a shining example of public open space in the heart of the town.

"I must also pay tribute to the work of Friends of Mesnes Park for all their determination and enthusiasm over the years."

Wigan Council's cabinet champion for culture, Brian Baldwin said: "Mesnes Park is a much loved part of our town but after generations of use it is in need of restoration.

"This latest grant gives the green light to allow the restoration of a town centre oasis to make everyone in Wigan Borough proud.

"It will create a lasting legacy and ensure that future generations continue to walk, relax and enjoy one of Wigan's real gems."

The popular green space is a classic example of a Victorian urban park.

It was Wigan's first municipal park and opened in 1878 as a "green lung" for the industrial town.

Today it receives around two million visitors a year and hosts an array of popular events including the Wigan One World Festival.

The Parks for People programme invests Lottery good cause money in regenerating public parks across UK.

The initiative aims to improve the local environment and put parks firmly back at the heart of community life.

Head of HLF in the North West, Sara Hilton, said: "Heritage Lottery Fund money has already played a vital role in the renaissance of the UK's parks for more than a decade but there is much more to be done.

"This 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, head of the North West region for the Big Lottery Fund said: "This investment comes at a time when healthy living is on the top of the agenda and our parks play a vital role in improving well-being, the environment and community life.

This funding is a tremendous starting point for plans to transform these this park into community spaces that can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike."