- Work is underway on £1.2m ‘sympathetic restoration’ of Winckley Square Gardens
- Barton Grange Landscapes contracted to carry out major project
- Project bid led by private sector and involves Groundwork, Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, Preston BID and Preston Historical Society
- Plans can be viewed here http://goo.gl/nOL1nn
A £1.2million project to restore Preston’s historic Winckley Square Gardens to their former glory is now underway.
Leaders behind the project have promised a sympathetic yet transformational restoration and the start of the work has been described as an ‘exciting time’ for Preston.
Contractors from Preston-based Barton Grange Landscapes have now been appointed. The aim is for the work to be completed in October, weather permitting.
The Gardens will be completely closed off while the work is taking place and there will be some restrictions to the parking days close to the southern entrance. All roads and pavements around the Square will remain open.
The scheme was given the go ahead last year after the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund announced a bid for almost £950,000 was approved.
The project has also received £150,000 from Preston’s Business Improvement District and smaller grants.
The improvements include:
- New and improved entrance and access points
- The restoration of all the railings around the Gardens
- Resolving the current flooding problems through improved land drainage
- Introducing lighting into the Gardens to improve security at night times
- The creation of new heritage reference points, plaques and displays throughout the Gardens
- New, wider footpaths with new high quality surfaces
- Replacement of worn and outdated 1980s seating
- Cleaning and repairing the Robert Peel statue, restoring its original inscriptions, and providing a higher quality setting for the statue
Barton Grange Landscapes was awarded the contract following a procurement process earlier this summer.
David Gill, chairman and a cofounder of the WSCIC, said: “The start of this work is another major milestone in a project which has been five years in the making. It is a wonderful example of the community working together to create something which Preston can rightly be very proud of.
“Our vision is for Winckley Square to be a rich and dynamic visual, cultural and intellectual outdoor experience for Prestonians and visitors alike. We began with a blank piece of paper and we are a huge step closer to making sure the Gardens aren’t a forgotten and dilapidated asset.”
David added: “Many people have given up their time for free to ensure this project comes to fruition. A huge element on this work which has been going on in the background for a number of years are the legal issues surrounding the land. This has been a major hurdle to overcome. Our legal team has put a great deal of time and effort to bring this complex legal process to the point where we can now get on site.”
The project has been led by the Winckley Square Community Interest Company (WSCIC) and Groundwork in partnership with Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, Preston BID and Preston Historical Society.
The design process included a dedicated conservation management plan developed by a team of notable Preston historians from groups such as the Preston and South Ribble Civic Trust, Preston Historical Society, Lancashire Gardens Trust and Blog Preston.
Mike Crowther, Groundwork’s Programme Director Sustainable Communities, said: “This vital work to transform the gardens will not only serve to restore and protect the heritage of the past but will also mark the beginning of an exciting new future for Winckley Square.”
Andrew Mather of the Preston Historical Society added: “The new plans for Winckley Square’s sensitive restoration, which have been developed over the past three years, will ensure it continues to be a much loved part of Preston’s heritage – a green oasis in the heart of the busy modern city – for years to come.”
Babs Murphy chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce added: “This vital grant that will enable the Winckley Square CIC to do so much good would never have been possible without the hard work and tens of thousands of pounds of investment from the Preston City Centre Business Improvement District (BID).
“Indeed it was a condition in order to receive the funding that the BID put £30,000 per year into the Square, and the team has done a great deal of work to increase the utilisation of the gardens, through initiatives such as the Winckley Square Hangout.
“We all have worked extremely hard in securing funding and our hard work has paid off. It won’t be long now before Winckley Square is returned to its former glory.”
Councillor John Swindells, deputy leader of Preston City Council said: “This is a careful restoration of truly one of the finest historic squares in the UK and it will make Winckley Square an even more attractive place to live and work.”
Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council added: “Winckley Square is an important base for several of the city’s professional services, and is an excellent business location.
“This project is one of many significant schemes that are currently being developed around the city centre. These include the bus station improvements and the plans for the Markets Quarter, as well as the railway station improvements and the redevelopment of the former Park Hotel.
“Our multi-million pound Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal is helping people to get around, creating new jobs and new homes. Overall this is an exciting time, with major investments and improvements coming into the city.”
Next month there will be a chance to have a behind the scenes look at the work and have a guided tour of the gardens as part of the national Heritage Open Days initiative.
On Saturday, September 10 and Sunday September 11, between 10:30am and 4pm people can learn more about the gardens and their history. Tours will take place at 11am, 1pm, 3pm.