Council hits the £3.78m lottery jackpot for Wigan's Haigh Woodland Park improvements
The old Bothy cottages and yard, which have been out of use for more than a decade and used to be home to the park’s zoo and later a model village, are to be transformed into a bustling community, training and volunteering zone.
Meanwhile, the Grade II* listed Plantation gates and Lodges – currently on the Heritage at Risk Register – are to be restored to their former glory to create a spectacular town centre gateway.
A new Woodland Hub offering outdoor adventure activities for both children and adults will also be created by Wigan Council’s Heritage, Nature and People project, which aims to improve the experience of visitors, celebrate the park’s rich history, and encourage locals to connect with nature.
Council leader David Molyneux MBE said: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured this grant award from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and we thank them for their magnificent support.
“Haigh Woodland Park is a much-loved asset enjoyed by many local residents and visitors alike, and this investment will restore key heritage features, appeal to new audiences, and enhance our wonderful ancient woodland for future generations.”
Coun Chris Ready, portfolio holder for communities and neighbourhoods at Wigan Council, said: “We are really passionate about creating more opportunities for people of all ages to get outdoors and connect with nature, because we know the real positive impact it can have on people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
“We have ambitious plans for Haigh Woodland Park and Haigh Hall, and securing this grant award is a major component of our future vision.
"We now look forward to working with our stakeholders and communities to deliver this wonderful project!”
The renovation of the historic Bothy cottages and yard, which were once the site of a zoo, will include the construction of a contemporary extension into the walled garden – creating a pavilion to support social and commercial enterprises within the local community.
The new Woodland Hub, in the heart of the Plantations, will be a base for local children and schools to experience outdoor activities such as den-building and bush crafts through a “forest school” model.
It will also boast a convenient new refreshment kiosk and toilet facilities for visitors.
Other elements of the project include footpath repairs, educational tools detailing the park’s unique past, and a new play trail designed for young visitors and families to explore and appreciate the site’s natural beauty and biodiversity.
Eilish McGuinness, chief executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “I’m delighted that we are providing such significant support to the Heritage, Nature and People project, which recognises the vital role of our woodlands, parks and gardens as the lifeblood and heartland of communities.
"The project will help to ensure our natural heritage is preserved and enhanced for the benefit of all, thanks to National Lottery players.”
The Heritage, Nature and People project was previously awarded a £256,000 development grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in March 2020, taking the total amount of funding awarded to £4,037,500.
Work on the project, which will be backed by a further £2m from council funds, is scheduled to begin in September 2023 – with the majority of elements completed by May 2024.
The redevelopment of the Bothy cottages and yard area is expected to finish by December 2024.