Oswaldtwistle’s Rhyddings Park is set for a £2million development programme thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG) secured by Newground Together and Hyndburn Borough Council.
Local agencies and the Friends of Rhyddings Park community group have worked tirelessly for the last two years to gain the funding that will not only revolutionise the park but also bring 600 training opportunities and new jobs to the area.
From its early beginnings as a private house and gardens belonging to local cotton magnate Robert Watson in the mid-1800s, the park was acquired by Oswaldtwistle Urban District Council in the early 20th Century as a recreational facility for the people of the town.
Newground Together and Hyndburn Borough Council has been awarded £1,389,308 by the HLF and BIG with grants and budget commitments from Hyndburn BC, Newground Together, Lancashire Environmental Fund and in kind contributions from partners such as Bootstrap Enterprises and Hyndburn Arts. The value of match funding totals £703,949 giving a total project value of just over £2m.
The money will be used to:
- restore the Coach House to create a new community venue;
- return the derelict walled garden to its traditional use of food growing, including the construction of Victorian style greenhouses;
- establish a training and volunteering programme linked to park management, community engagement and health promotion managed by Newground working with the Friends of Rhyddings Park
- work with Bootstrap Enterprises to develop a social enterprise based in the restored former Coach House, generating income for the park from meeting rooms, a cafe and a training kitchen;
- create a performance space area and develop a programme of community arts working with Hyndburn Arts at the nearby Civic Arts Theatre;
- provide education resources and opportunities for local schools;
- develop programmes of guided walks and family fun activities.
- ensure that the restored park provides benefits for heritage, local people and the wider community
Building works will begin in April 2016 and should last around 12 months.
Today’s news comes as part of a £32million funding announcement for parks and cemeteries across the UK.
Explaining the significance of the support, Head of HLF North West, Sara Hilton said, on behalf of HLF and BIG: “Our parks are where we play some of our first games, where we make some of our first discoveries and where we spend some of our best times with family and friends.
“However we use them, parks are an important part of life, which is why we’re delighted to be investing National Lottery players’ money in parks from Bristol to Helensburgh to carry out vital restoration and create some wonderful opportunities for communities and wildlife.”
Peter Jordan, Executive Director of Newground Together, said: “Rhyddings Park has an incredible heritage and this project will have a firm nod to the past, while providing facilities expected of a modern park and a focus for training and community support that will provide benefits far beyond the park boundaries.
“This innovative project will give the people of Oswaldtwistle an invaluable community resource but will also provide an economic boost as we intend to use local contractors to help carry out the work.
We’ve had great support from our local partners who have worked very hard over the past couple of years to make this happen; I’m delighted that the National Lottery share our vision for the park and have committed funding that is vital to making it happen. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the work begin.”
Neil Mooney, Chair of the Friends of Rhyddings Park Group, said: “Over the last 10 years Friends of Rhyddings Park has worked hard to build relationships that have enabled this bid to be so strong.
“With setbacks along the way the process hasn’t always been easy but we are now thrilled to be in a position where all the hard work of all the partners is coming to fruition.
“We can’t thank Newground enough for the way they have handled this and achieved such fantastic results to benefit the community of Oswaldtwistle.”
Gayle Knight, Creative Director of the Civic Arts Centre, added: “We’re excited to be part of such a wonderful project for Oswaldtwistle.
“We’ve had so many good events in the park over the last few years and we want to have even more. The performance area will create a third stage for the Civic Arts Centre and Theatre. We’re also looking forward to having fun days and of course, the Carnival in a stunningly refurbished park.”
Cllr Ken Moss, Cabinet Member for Parks, said: “Securing this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund is absolutely fantastic news and means that Rhyddings Park will be completely refurbished.
“I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen, including the Friends of Rhyddings Park, our Parks staff, our partners Newground Together, the Civic Arts Centre team, Bootstrap Enterprises and Lancashire County Council.
“These are exciting times for the park and I look forward to seeing it when all the work has been completed, its set to be an amazing facility for the residents of Oswaldtwistle and the whole of the Borough of Hyndburn.”
Elizabeth Taylor, Chief Executive of Bootstrap Enterprises, said: “Bootstrap Enterprises is delighted to be involved in the Rhyddings Park project.
“Bootstrap's long term involvement with the running of a cafe and centre in the park will enable Bootstrap to provide training and experience to improve skills for employment and to assist people into work, whilst serving the local community.”