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Worden Park to see major drainage and footpaths work

Posted on - 26th March, 2023 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Leyland, Parks, Politics, Preston News, South Ribble News
Worden Park on a frosty morning Pic: Tim Watts
Worden Park Pic: Tim Watts

Leyland’s Worden Park is in line for an overhaul to make it more accessible – and attractive – to its many users.

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South Ribble Borough Council cabinet has given the go-ahead to almost £700,000 of works – including the installation of new and restored footpaths running across the Grade II-listed attraction, a relocated toilet block and the removal of a failed rose garden.

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The upgrade is designed to complement the recent £2.8m facelift given to Worden Hall, which sits within the park’s grounds. Completed last year, that revamp saw the iconic facility brought back into use after a decade of disrepair – and it is now taking bookings to stage events such as parties and small weddings from July.

Read more: Land bought and secured for Leyland Town Deal

The newly refurbished Worden Hall Pic: Paul Heyes
The newly refurbished Worden Hall Pic: Paul Heyes

However, the primly-laid paths surrounding the Leyland venue stand in stark contrast to the deteriorating routes through the park itself.

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Cabinet member for finance, property and assets Matthew Tomlinson told the meeting at which the improvements were given the go-ahead that some of the planned work was “vitally needed”.

“Anybody who walks around the park in winter will have noticed now that we’re beginning to get little..ditches at the side of the path[s] where it’s beginning to collapse…[and] fill with the rainwater,” Coun Tomlinson said.

He added that the authority wanted “the rest of the park to reflect the absolute quality” of the refurbished hall.

Read more: Next stage of Worden Hall plans unveiled

The works – which will also see drainage improved throughout the site – are due to be completed by the end of the summer and were given planning permission by the council’s independent planning committee last month. They include:

  • Reconstruction and widening of existing paths and driveways between North Lodge and Worden Hall and those running south from the hall to the Swiss Lodge.
  • Historic routes across the 18th-century park – whose formal gardens were added in the 1800s – will get an amber gold resin bond gravel finish to match those around the hall. Passing places and kerbed edges will also be repaired.
  • An entirely new path connecting the main car park to the playground will be created via the fish pond in order to make access easier during the winter months than is currently the case for families having to cut across wet grass.
  • A 1940s rose garden will be removed and returned to the original design a century earlier of landscaped grass and trees. That decision was taken as a result of disease and fungus build-up in the soil preventing the flowers from thriving.
  • The formal gardens will be upgraded with the original layout of designer W.A. Nesfield partially reinstated – specifically, a circular path running from the three gates on the south side of the balustrade wall which existed until the 1960s.
  • The famous ‘bent’ Victorain cedar tree – believed to date back to 1887 – will be better protected, with the existing shin-rail fence replaced with a 1.2m, wavy-topped mesh barrier and timber props swapped for moss green-coloured steel supports.
  • The toilet block currently located at the central crossroads will be shifted to what the council describes as a “less prominent” site alongside the entrance to the overflow and main car parks.
  • New flagged bases installed beneath existing seats.
  • Paths re-dressed in the main car park and additional bollards installed to match those near the Worden Lane entrance.
  • Installation of cast iron illuminated bollards along the back footway between the main and Hall car parks for after-dark events.
  • Restoration and repair of the Ice House façade with a new steel door of the same shape as the existing timber one being installed to prevent unauthorised access.
  • Addition of a front gate at North Lodge.

Cllr Caroline Moon, who represents the Buckshaw and Worden ward on the district authority and sits on its planning committee, told the gathering of that group last month that the proposals were “very welcome” – and particularly lauded the new path to the playground. She added that she looked forward to seeing plans next brought forward for the park’s fountain.

However, fellow committee member, Cllr Mary Green warned that the relocated toilets would be “a bit of a trek if somebody is desperate and they’re at the other end [of the park]”.

A budget totalling £917,000 had been set aside to deliver the works, but the final bill will now come in at around £693,000. A contract has been awarded to Burnley-based Landscape Engineering Ltd to carry out the lion’s share of the works for £608,000, while separate specialists tenders will be invited for the golden gravel surface dressing, at an estimated cost of £85.000.

Read more: Jubilee Gardens care home work in Leyland to begin

Coun Tomlinson said that the project had come in so far under budget, because the necessary design work had been undertaken in-house.

The work will have to be around the Leyland Festival and Music In The Park events held in the attraction over the summer.

Worden Park is the only park north of London to have retained “green flag” status since that awards system was introduced back in 1996.

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