Work is due to start at the end of January on the £5.2 million restoration of Lightwoods Park and House.
Sandwell Council’s Cabinet has approved the letting of the contract for the value of £3.979 million to the specialist conservation and restoration company, Fairhurst Ward Abbots.
Council deputy leader Councillor Steve Eling said: “The aim is to restore the historical elements of Lightwoods Park and refurbish the Grade II Lightwoods House so more people can enjoy, learn about and become involved in the park and house”.
“This is the culmination of a major piece of work to restore the park and house to their former glory that has been worked up since Sandwell Council took over the park in November 2010”.
“Local residents and members of the Friends of Lightwoods Park and House have been involved in working out the priorities for what will be included in the restoration and the future uses for the house. I can’t wait for the work to be finished.”
Project officer Cherie O’Sullivan said: “Everyone is anxious to see the work get under way as soon as possible, and we appreciate people keep hearing us talk about it. We expect to be on target for the grand opening in August 2016.”
Councillor Richard Marshall, chair of the Friends of Lightwoods Park and House, said: “After years of talking about this project, to actually be within touching distance of it starting is almost unbelievable. It will have a huge effect on the community and the local area as it will re-energise this part of Smethwick and will bring life back into an icon”
The project includes bringing the Grade II listed Lightwoods house, which dates from 1791, back into public use for community meetings, training, functions, a children’s centre and on-site offices for the park/house management and police.
The ground floor will provide public toilets, a tea room and exhibition space. The upper floors will have rooms for the community, conferencing, weddings and commercial office space.
The project also includes restoration of the park which was officially opened as a public park in 1903, elements include:
- Restoring the drinking fountains, 19th century bandstand, Shakespeare Garden, walls and railings and a pond;
- Improving access and a new play area;
- Turning the plant nursery into a horticultural training centre; and
- Holding educational and events programmes at the park and house.
Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG) are funding £3.6 million towards the project under the Parks for People Programme, with Sandwell Council funding £1.6 million.