Excitement at progress report on iconic Wigan building's continuing transformation
and live on Freeview channel 276
The project – which will cost a total of £39m in total – includes a cinema room in the basement being built; an underground bar; education spaces; a cafe; a rooftop terrace; and an observatory on the roof.
The stately home, once the seat of the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres, is encased in scaffolding as the exterior restoration work continues.
It is due to be finished in around three years. The five-floor Grade II*-listed building will boast a wealth of culture, arts, education and leisure facilities. The hall, built in around 1840, stands proud in the picturesque surroundings of Haigh Woodland Park, which attracts thousands of visitors every month.
Councillors spoke with excitement about the “once in a generation” project at a town hall meeting. They said the hall will once again be the ‘”ewel in the crown of the borough”.
“It sounds really great and exciting, but we mustn’t forget how good it is there already,” Coun Paul Molyneux said. “There are so many great things on offer and it is brilliant value for money. The fact it is going to get even better is fantastic for residents of the borough.”
Coun Sheila Ramsdale added: “I think it is fantastic what is going on. It is absolutely buzzing morning until night whatever day you go.”
International artists and filmmakers Al and Al, who are taking creative control of the vision for the council, hope to see famous bands, artists and headline acts perform once the project is finished. They want to make the building a beacon for arts, culture, heritage and the environment – a “visitor destination for the 21st century”.
Coun Chris Ready, portfolio holder for communities and neighbourhoods, said: “The Levelling Up team who came up from London was amazed by the progress we’ve made straight away. They said other authorities (who’ve got Levelling Up funding) haven’t even drawn up plans yet and we’re already going with work.
“When we started this project – the leader said not to forget about Pennington Hall Park (in Leigh) – if you look at it now it is heaving. Haigh is heaving and Pennington is heaving.
“People are coming from all over to see what we’ve got here. Whether it is raining or snowing, the park is full.”
In addition to the “five-floor masterplan” to restore the hall itself, the derelict plantation gateway lodges are set for a revamp as well. Thanks to £3.78m in National Lottery Heritage Fund cash, the derelict zoo on School Lane, just off the main complex, will also be transformed into a new visitor attraction and learning centre.
The money would help provide a new “multi-purpose garden pavilion” and education and training hubs to provide more activity space. The former zoo closed in the 1990s, was a model village for a period but has been unused for many years.