Plans to renovate the coach house building in Penwortham’s Hurst Grange Park have been given a double boost in the space of two days.
After more than a year’s preparation, a bid for £750,000 of heritage lottery funding has been submitted – with planning permission for the scheme being granted just 24 hours later.
If the cash comes through for the project, the historic building will have a new first floor added to it and a glazed, covered courtyard will also be created. The fabric of the 19th century structure will be restored and extensions which were added in the 1960s demolished.
South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee gave the green light to the development after hearing that the “dishevelled” appearance of the coach house – which currently operates as a visitor centre – was affecting the appearance of the Green Flag park in which it sits.
The authority wants the revamped building to operate as a community facility and include a new cafe.
Committee member Cllr Keith Martin paid tribute to the Friends of Hurst Grange Park for “keeping the building warm, so that it can be brought back to life”.
Pete Wilkinson, from the friends group, said that they were proud to have played a part in the story of the building since the organisation formed 12 years ago. Members have raised over £17,000 to contribute to the cost of the planned works.
“If we hadn’t used it, it would have been a wreck by now. We’ve been running our own events, but if we get this lottery funding, then hopefully it can be open on a daily basis,” Pete said after the meeting.
Fellow group member Dave Slater added that the location of the building in the centre of the park was “ideal” for the council’s plans to create a community space.
But whatever the future holds for the building, the group hopes that a traditional local delicacy will continue to have a starring role at the site.
“Our parched peas have gained a certain notoriety in the area,” Pete laughed.
“The tradition is for them to be eaten on bonfire night or at least in winter – but we’ve been serving them up at events pretty much all year round.”
The results of the lottery bid are expected in March and it is hoped that obtaining planning permission will stand the application in good stead. If successful, the funding would cover the cost of around two thirds of the redevelopment. South Ribble Council has also set aside £50,000 for the project.
The coach house was part of a larger estate built by a Preston solicitor in the 1850s. It was taken over by the then local authority in the area in the 1930s, when the main house was demolished.
But the coach house has remained, being used for storage for several decades before falling into disuse in the mid-1970s.