There has been a lot of speculation about what will be happening in Lightwoods Park, what elements are due to close, and when. Here, Cherie O'Sullivan, Project Officer for Sandwell Council, provides some of the answers.
Lightwoods Park and House are set to undergo a full restoration from the end of January 2015. The restoration is being funded through a grant of £3.6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG) and £1.6 million match funding from Sandwell Council.
The aim of this £5.2 million project is to restore the historical elements of Lightwoods Park and refurbish the Grade II Lightwoods House so more people can enjoy, learn about and become involved in the park and house.
The project will include the restoration of the drinking fountains, the 19th Century Bandstand, Shakespeare Garden, walls and railings and a pond. It will also incorporate access improvements and a new play area. The Grade II listed house, which was built in 1791, will be brought back into public use for community meetings, training, functions, a Children’s Centre and on site offices for the park/house management and police. The ground floor will provide public toilets, a tea room and exhibition space. The upper floors of the house will provide rooms for the community, conferencing, weddings and commercial office space. The plant nursery will become a horticultural training centre. Educational and events programmes are also planned for the park and house.
Work was originally due to commence in the autumn of this year, but the complexity of the tendering process and scope of the works of this historic restoration means it is now anticipated that work will start at the end of January 2015. The duration of the works will continue through 2015/2016 with the official opening of a restored and beautiful Lightwoods Park and House now forecast for Lightwoods Park is being restored in a phased approach so that some parts of the park are always accessible during the contract. This is with exception to Lightwoods House and the Shakespeare Garden which will be closed to the public for the full duration of the contract.
Until we have awarded the contract I am unable to announce a detailed timescale showing which parts of the park will be closed and when, I have however sent the rough outline programme (see below) out to Friends members and this is also in the park notice boards. Please note that this is subject to change following further conversations with the selected contractor. As soon as the phasing plan finalised with the contractor it will be published.
There will be a pre-construction briefing with neighbouring residents and members of the friends group before work starts on site to explain all of this
If you are interested in finding out more about the project and / or getting involved then please email the project officer, Cherie O'Sullivan, on firstname.lastname@example.org and request to join the Friends of Lightwoods Park and House. Cherie sends regular mail outs to all members informing the group of project updates.