Historic park chalet to be locked up

The Swiss Chalet in Avenham Park
The Swiss Chalet in Avenham Park
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A historic park chalet which is popular with rough sleepers could have grilles and a gate installed if plans are given the nod.

Preston Council wants to prevent people from sleeping in the Swiss Chalet in Avenham Park by adding the gates.

The parkland shelter, which dates back to 1865, is also often subject to graffiti and vandalism.

The shelter which is one of the park’s many key features is currently open at the front and has large openings on both sides.

The chalet has been restored in the last six years as part of a Heritage Lottery funded park restoration scheme.

But Preston Council says while repairs including the restoration of seating have returned the chalet to its original condition, it continues to be vulnerable to vandalism.

The gates and grilles would have a traditional wrought and cast iron appearance in keeping with the building.

In a planning application Preston Council said: “The Swiss Chalet is frequently subject to graffiti, vandalism and overnight sleeping by vagrants.

“The chalet has also been subject to the lighting of fires overnight by vagrants.

“There is a continuing concern for loss of life and loss of the timber structure to fire overnight.

“In recent months the restored ornamental tile floor has been partly broken up and balustrading and seating has been badly damaged overnight.”

The application adds: “The Chalet needs to be free of overnight sleepers and vagrants.

“At the moment the structure is open at the front and has large openings to the side.

“These entrances and openings require to be closed at night to prevent admission of vagrants.”

The council says a gate and grilles are the most ‘feasible, durable and sustainable solution’ which will be ‘strong enough to withstand anticipated abuse and attempts to damage’.

The gates will be locked in the evening and opened early in the morning by the park rangers.

During the day the gates will be fully secured in the open position. There will be no restriction access to ordinary park visitors during the day.

The other shelter in the park, The Belvedere, has security gates and screens.

A decision on the plans will be made by Preston Council’s planning department in the coming months.