Penwortham coach house refurbishment is set to start

Work to transform the historical coach house at Penwortham’s Hurst Grange Park is set to begin within weeks after a major reduction in the cost of the project.

Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 6:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 6:26 pm

There was concern that the lottery-funded scheme could collapse if there was any further increase in the cash required to carry out the revamp of the nineteenth century landmark.

South Ribble Borough Council began its search for a contractor to undertake the work back in July, with a warning that the already burgeoned £789,000 price tag was likely to be the limit that the authority could approve.

The project was initially costed at £446,000 two years ago, with the council expected to make a contribution of £23,000 if a bid for lottery cash was successful.

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An image of how the revamped coach house will look (courtesy of Friends of Hurst Grange Park)

However, the spiralling price of the plans pushed South Ribble’s share to £253,000 – and councillors were told that there was no option to scale back the scheme to absorb any subsequent increases, because the lottery funding had been granted on the basis of the work being completed in full.

A contract has now been awarded which brings the overall cost of the refurbishment down to £732,000 – reducing the council’s contribution by over £50,000.

Deputy leader Mick Titherington told a meeting of the cabinet that the result was a “win-win”.

“We’ve got the work being done up to the standard we expect, but cheaper than we thought it was going to [be],” he said.

The coach house is currently "a shell"

The renovation of the coach house – which dates back to 1850 and is the only remaining original building on the former Hurst Grange mansion estate – will see its original front façade brought back to life, following demolition of a garage added in the 1960s.

A covered courtyard will be created at the rear – including a dementia-friendly garden – and space made for a catering outlet. Public toilets will be installed, while a first-floor studio space will also be added.

The venue will also be rented out for local clubs and events – something which Pete Wilkinson, from Friends of Hurst Grange Park, hopes will be possible by the time work is completed next year.

“Obviously, Covid has changed everything – and, in fact, the job may nearly have been completed by now if things hadn’t been delayed earlier this year.

“But I’m just happy that we have finally got here after such a long time and a lot of hard work by many people.

“It will be wonderful to see it finished,” Pete said.

The Friends group has also raised £17,000 towards the project.

A report to cabinet members said that the building was currently “little more than a shell”, after falling into disuse in the 1970s.

The firm awarded the contract for the refurbishment has not yet been named, but is known to be a Lancashire-based company which has made various “social value” commitments – including to the use of local labour, supply chains and apprentices.