Ambitious plans revealed for 'woodland hub' and restoration work at historic Wigan park

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Ambitious restoration plans for a historic Wigan park have been revealed, which aim to protect its heritage and provide more attractions for visitors.

Wigan Council has already submitted a planning application for work to repair the outside of Haigh Hall, after taking back control of the former hotel last year.

Now proposals have been revealed for the wider Haigh Woodland Park, which focus on the Plantation Gates, Bothy Cottages and a new “woodland hub”.

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It is hoped the scheme will restore and bring unused areas of the park back to life, while providing extra facilities for visitors.

Work will take place to the Plantation Gates and lodges as part of the restoration projectWork will take place to the Plantation Gates and lodges as part of the restoration project
Work will take place to the Plantation Gates and lodges as part of the restoration project
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These would include a centre for outdoor adventure activities, such as a forest school, a base for training and education, and new toilets open to the public.

Planning applications have been submitted – but the project is dependent on the council being successful in its bid for cash from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

James Winterbottom, the council’s director for digital, leisure and well-being, said: “Haigh Woodland Park means so much to so many people in our borough and our long-term vision for the park is to create a fantastic destination which can be celebrated and enjoyed for many generations to come.

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“If we’re successful in our bid for funding, this will enable us to restore and open up these spaces once again, giving visitors even more opportunities to explore and appreciate what the park has to offer.”

The council received initial support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund last year for the second phase of the Haigh Woodland Park project.

As work continues on the application for a full grant, the council must secure planning permission for what it would like to do.

It has submitted three planning applications and two listed building applications to cover the three parts of the project.

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If successful, the scheme would see the repair and restoration of the Plantation Gates and lodges to create an “interpretative gateway” and visitor facilities.

Repair and restoration work would be carried out on the Bothy Cottages, as well as an extension. The former Bothy yard area would be used to create a base for training and education, community activities, volunteering, an office for the site team and flexible spaces to support the events programme.

A new woodland hub would be created in the plantations, around 500m from the canal, for outdoor adventure activities, including a forest school. There would also be seasonal kiosk facilities offering refreshments, public toilets and storage space.

The planning applications are currently open for public consultation, with a decision on the proposals expected to be made in June.

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A decision on whether the council is successful with its National Lottery Heritage Fund application – and therefore whether these plans can go ahead – is not expected until late 2022.

It could mean a host of changes are made to the area, as plans are also being drawn up for the future of Haigh Hall.

The council is working with artists Al and Al, who held consultation events in the autumn to ask people what they would like to see there.