Worden Hall revamp gets the go-ahead

A major refurbishment of Leyland’s Worden Hall is set to begin within weeks, after planning permission was granted to convert the iconic building into a community and small events space.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 8:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 12:56 am

The Grade II-listed landmark has lain unused for almost a decade and has fallen into disrepair since its doors were last open to the public.

Eighteen months ago, South Ribble residents were asked for their thoughts on how the council-run building could be brought back into use.

Responses suggested that the public favoured a hybrid option, combining the creation of community facilities and an events venue. A proposal to turn the hall into a nationally renowned destination for weddings – which would have seen it open only to private bookings for that purpose – was rejected.

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The doors of Worden Hall will reopen to the public after the revamp

Under the now approved plans, the stables cafe will become a licensed bar, while the eaterie will be relocated to the Derby Wing – the only part of the original building left standing from its construction in the early eighteenth century.

Around 100 people will be able to be accommodated across multiple cafe table areas, including in a new “courtyard hall”, which will also operate as a flexible reception, overflow and outdoor function area.

That part of the redevelopment will replace a central conservatory installed around 25 years ago, which will now be demolished.

The Derby Wing will also house first-floor meeting rooms and private dining spaces for up to 60 people.

A conservatory constructed in the late '90s will make way for a new flexible space

Meanwhile, the Marsden Room will act as the main events area, offering space for weddings and functions for up to 200 guests – with a forecast that the venue will host 80 events per year.

The proposals were unanimously backed by South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee, where members heaped praise on the project.

Cllr James Flannery described it as “an answer to what we’re coming out of” after the pandemic – and welcomed the incorporation of green innovations such as the use of ground source heat pumps.

“What we’re creating here is a dynamic hub for the residents of the borough to enjoy,” he added.

Cllr Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for finance, property and assets at South Ribble Borough Council

Extensive landscaping works will also take place to improve the approach to the hall, along with an extension of its dedicated car park to create a total of 30 spaces.

The meeting heard that a proposal for electric car charging points was dismissed because of their “visual impact” on the historic building – but that such facilities were likely to be installed in other car park areas within the park.

Planning officer Debbie Roberts said that there were no firm timescales for completion of the work, but indicated that autumn was a possibility.

In a statement issued after the meeting, cabinet member for finance, property and assets Matthew Tomlinson said the planning decision marked a “new and exciting future for the park”.

He added: “Worden Park is the jewel in the crown of South Ribble and the creation of this new flexible-use space will enhance this even further – putting South Ribble firmly on the map.

“I want to thank all of those who responded to the consultation last year – we really couldn’t have got to this stage without you.

“We know that so many people are passionate about this incredible building and we promise to do this right. This park, and the hall, belongs to all of us – and I cannot wait to continue to share the progress.”