Stumbling block for pavilion plan

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PLANS to upgrade a pavilion as part of ambitious ongoing plans to revitalise a park in St Annes have hit a stumbling block.

The Friends of Hope Street Park have been granted planning permission to refurbish the pavilion, owned by Fylde Council, into a modern community facility – but they have missed out on a £30,000 grant to help fund the scheme after a condition they weren’t expecting was attached.

Now, with some £56,000 of a project expected to cost a total of £109,000 already secured – including an anonymous cash ‘windfall’ of £21,480 donated to the project last year – they are applying for cash aid from other sources to try and raise enough for building work to start.

“We had applied for a £30,000 grant from the Lancashire Environmental Fund, which was a generous source of revenue when we were raising funds to upgrade the park’s play facilities,” said Friends chairman Ian Roberts.

“But, in order for us to obtain the grant money, they wanted the Friends to take out a 25-year lease on the pavilion and we didn’t feel we could do that so we are looking elsewhere. No criticism of the LEF – they have been very good to us, but we just didn’t want to commit to taking out a lease on the building, especially for such a length of time.

“And if we don’t get the extra cash it is not the end of the world. We would probably just go back to the architect and ask him to work on a scaled-down plan, but it would be good to get the full-scale version up and running if we can.”

The ‘new’ pavilion would have a larger area for meetings, storage, new electrical circuit, new kitchen, new toilets, including a baby changing area and a disabled toilet, new double-glazed windows and doors, vaulted ceiling with skylights, new roof, heat pump, access for disabled people, landscaping and external wood cladding and Mr Roberts says there is a list of organisations eager to use the facility.

Among the organisations the Friends are bidding to ask for cash aid are St Annes Town Council and a St Annes-based housing group and the Friends have written to residents on the Heyhouses estate asking them for their support and encouraging their feedback.

“Our aim is to build a facility to be proud of and the more people we have using it, the better,” he said.

The work is part of a £400,000 masterplan for the park which is intended to be carried out in three phases. The first, at a cost of £140,000, involved the building a state-of-the-art playground which opened in 2011, the pavilion is the second phase and the third is set to include a ‘wild walk’ at the Shepherd Road end of the park.

Mr Roberts and Friends secretary Pam Curtis were shocked to find £21,480, with a note to say it should go towards the project, left anonymously on their doorstep just over 12 months ago.