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HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND EARMARKS£45.M FOR HERITAGE PROJECTS ACROSS ENGLAND - INCLUDING URBAN PARKS

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A diverse range of heritage projects across England will benefit from grants by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).£4...
A diverse range of heritage projects across England will benefit from grants by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).£45.5m has been earmarked for ten large projects which have been allocated Stage One Passes* and£5.58m has been awarded in grants. The grants will secure the future of the natural as well as built and maritime heritage of the UK, bringing with them greater access and regenerating rural and inner city areas.

Urban Parks

Three urban parks benefit from the grants announced yesterday. Wirral MBC has been given a Stage One Pass* towards a grant of nearly£6.6m. The council intends to use the full grant to restore the Grade I listed Birkenhead Park, considered to be the UK's most important historic urban park. The park will be restored in line with its original design and will benefit from new visitor facilities. The restoration of the park will provide a fresh community focus for a deprived area of Birkenhead and the council hopes to draw in visitors from further afield, bringing in money to the area. Access to the park, both physical and educational, will be improved thus benefiting all parts of the community.

Birkenhead Park was designed by Joseph Paxton and opened in 1847. Not just picturesque, it also acts as a physical statement of Birkenhead's aspirations of becoming a great new city, and is acknowledged to be the first public park in the world, leading the way for the Victorian parks movement and inspiring numerous imitations both at home and overseas, including New York's Central Park. It is the only Urban Park on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens to be listed Grade I.

Stage One Passes* have also been awarded to Leeds City Council for Roundhay Park on the north-eastern edge of Leeds (£6,111,000), Rochdale MBC for Broadfield Park (£1,000,000) and Reading BC for the Grade II listed Forbury Gardens in the centre of the town (£1,267,000). The council will use development funding announced today to work in partnership with the HLF to fine tune their individual restoration plans.

SS Great Britain

£7.35m is earmarked for Bristol's 'forerunner of modern shipping', the SS Great Britain. Once the largest ship in the world, SS Great Britain and the western portion of the former Great Western Steamship Company dockyard, where the ship was built, have received a Stage One Pass* from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The decision means that the SS Great Britain Project receives initial approval to develop its plans to arrest the decline of the condition of the ship and restore its dock and associated surroundings. The SS Great Britain Project will include conservation works to the ship and the docks, as well as improving access for visitors and providing an education programme for schools and other young people. The installation of a dehumidification system and other environmental controls are intended to ensure that the ship is conserved for the next 100 years. Further work will include repairs to the dry dock entrance.

Ancoats

The future of two important buildings in the Ancoats Conservation Area of Manchester could be secured with grants totalling more than£4.8m, after further development of more detailed proposals by the Ancoats Building Preservation Trust. The trust has received£278,000 to develop plans for Grade II* listed Murray's Mill and Grade II listed St Peter's Church. As one of the most significant industrial sites in the UK, Ancoats represents an important stage in the historical growth of Manchester. Murray's Mill is one of the key buildings in Ancoats, and its refurbishment and conversion into other uses as offices and homes will accelerate the regeneration of this area and the eastern edge of the city centre. Murray's Mill is made up of three building surrounding a courtyard and in-filled canal basin and St Peter's Church, although now redundant, still forms a central focus for the area.

Stephen Johnson, HLF's director of operations, said:

'All these major grants which we have announced today contribute towards regeneration in different ways. Historic parks play a key role in the life of a town or city and are valuable green spaces within the urban environment forming a real asset to people living there. The work proposed in Bristol on SS Great Britain is a significant contribution towards the redevelopment of the Bristol docks area, and our support for Ancoats will reawaken interest and bring sustainable new life to this important part of Manchester's heritage.'

Notes

*A Stage One Pass means that a project with total project costs of over£500,000 has won the HLF Trustees' approval to continue to Stage Two, at which time the 'earmarked' grant can be confirmed, providing that the applicant has met the conditions laid down at Stage One. The two-staged approach to lottery grants was introduced by the HLF to speed up the decision-making process and reduce the amount of investment made by projects that could subsequently be unsuccessful.

The Heritage Lottery Fund provides financial support for the protection and enhancement of our heritage, of local, regional or national importance for the benefit of communities throughout the UK. So far, 5,470 grants have been awarded with a combined value of£1.5bn.

Contact LGCnet for a full list of winners. Tel 0207 347 1832.

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