Work is now under way on a £1.2m project to restore a historic green space in the centre of Preston to its former glory.
Leaders behind the Winckley Square Gardens scheme have promised a “sympathetic yet transformational restoration”, with the start of the work described as an “exciting time” for the city.
Contractors from Preston-based Barton Grange Landscapes have been appointed, and the aim is for the work to be completed in October.
David Gill, chairman and a cofounder of the Winckley Square Community Interest Company (WSCIC), said: “The start of this work is another major milestone in a project which has been five years in the making.
“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.”
The gardens will be completely closed off during the work, with some parking restrictions.
The improvements include new entrance and access points, the restoration of railings, improved drainage and the introduction of lighting.
There will also be new heritage reference points, wider footpaths, replacement of seating and cleaning and repairing the Robert Peel statue.
Mike Crowther of Groundwork 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, 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.”
Lottery funding was approved for the scheme, which has also received £150,000 from Preston’s Business Improvement District and smaller grants.
Babs Murphy, of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “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).”
Coun John Swindells, deputy leader of Preston Council, said the work would make Winckley Square “even more attractive”, while Lancashire County Council leader Jennifer Mein described it as a “significant” project.