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Extra funds request for Preston park project

Restoration works underway at Moor Park
Restoration works underway at Moor Park

Cash-strapped Preston Council is considering spending an extra £90k on a city park restoration project after initial estimates missed the mark.

The multi-million pound improvement works at Moor Park have been ongoing for several years and have contributed to a boost in visitors, the town hall said.

However, increased costs and failures to secure predicted levels of “external financing” have prompted a re-think.

Councillors will this week be asked to approve proposals for an extra £63,000 from the council’s Capital Programme plus £30,000 to cover the external funds shortfall.

In 2014 the council received £1.725m from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project with another £625,000 expected from external partners along with the council’s own contributions.

The first phase of the scheme included refurbishment of the Grotto, the Observatory, the bowls pavilion and installation of a skate park.

Requirements attached to receiving the HLF funding means the council must submit an activity plan including guided tours and heritage trails.

However, “unforeseen costs of re-design, specification changes and site management to meet the HLF’s requirements” have created a shortfall.

A report reads: “Unfortunately when undertaking schemes of this scale there are risks that the projects may not be able to deliver their outcomes within the original financial projections.”

Director of Environment at Preston Council, Adrian Phillips, said: “Funding bids are developed and submitted several years before project delivery, and the shortfall represents just four per cent of the total cost.

Some of the shortfall is due to added beneficial extras – for example CCTV – and the rest is a lack of available match funding from external sources, which is a risk for any large project.

“The report to Council is part of the process to request the extra resource from council funds in order to complete the restoration to the highest possible standard.”