Region: North West
Local Authority: Manchester
Owner Type: Local Authority
Funding Body: Heritage Lottery Fund (Urban Parks programme)
Year of Intervention: 1996 - onwards
Summary: Manchester City Council took a strategic approach to the problems presented by a large private estate with many ornamental buildings, which had been in use as a municipal park for nearly 100 years. The Councils Historic Landscape Regeneration Masterplan outlined an ambitious regeneration strategy and helped unlock funding for improvement to the park. Innovative new uses and management arrangements have now been found for the buildings, and exemplary standards of repair have been implemented with the help of Heritage Lottery Funding.
One of Europe’s largest urban parks, at 600 acres Heaton Park provides 25% of the green space in Manchester. The park, like the house, was remodelled, and designed landscapes date variously from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Heaton Hall was remodelled in the Palladian style in the late C18th by James Wyatt. The house is listed in Grade I, and is one of the finest of its period in the country. The central and eastern sections are open to the public as a museum and art gallery from April-October, and the Orangery available for use year round. However, the West wing requires repair, and this will be included in phase 3, due to start in 2006. The Temple is an ornamental feature in the park, probably relating to the late C18th remodelling and by James Wyatt. The Smithy Lodge and Grand Lodge date from c.1806/7 and are by Lewis Wyatt.
The designed landscapes suffered from unsympathetic improvements since the park came into municipal use in the early 20th Century, and these are being addressed as part of the programme of work.
New uses were needed for the multitude of ornamental buildings if the pattern of vandalism and decay was to be reversed, and their highly graded listing required high quality design solutions. Right-to-buy and other issues presented problems in the Council acting as landlord for long term residential uses for the ornamental buildings.
Recognising that the park’s problems required a holistic approach, Manchester Leisure prepared a Historic Landscape Regeneration Masterplan, in conjunction with consultants, Landscape Architect colleagues and the Planning Department. This ambitious regeneration strategy formed the basis for applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund, once it had been approved by the Executive Committee.
Short term residential uses are being built up gradually for the two lodges, such as golfing weekends, bridal suite for weddings, and ‘Landmark Trust’ type holidays. Interim uses such as providing office space for the Friends of the Park ensure the site presence needed to prevent vandalism and neglect. The Temple is in use as a summer studio for artists, and this use and some astronomy sessions allow substantial public access.
Keywords: Management Plans, Repair, Reconstruction, restoration, Re-use