Mesnes Conservation Area Group

Newsletter, April 2011

Village Green Hearing

The second attempt to secure Town Green registration for the Mesnes Field Conservation Area in Wigan will be assessed at a Public Hearing in the Mercure Hotel on 18th April. The applicant, Kim Darby, has been very encouraged by the level of support from both residential and commercial quarters which clearly demonstrate an overwhelming majority of the neighbourhood are strongly in favour of preserving the Mesnes Field 'as of right' access to enjoy informal recreation for all age groups derived over the past twenty years.

The submitted application evidence to Wigan Council, acting as Registration Authority under the Commons Act 2006, is by virtue of statements and pictures, which are intended to be indicative of general Field usage over the required two decades qualifying period. Particular emphasis is placed on the defined 'neighbourhood' and its available population to prove 'sufficiency of use' has occurred according to present interpretation of the Act. In all these respects the Group are convinced the application is of great merit and trust the 'Field of Dreams' can be sustained forever as a Town Green to benefit the community.

We extend our sincere appreciation to the following active locality groups for support of the Mesnes Field Town Green lifestyle;- Wigan Civic Trust; The Friends of Mesnes Park; Swinley Resident's Group; 'Save Wigan' Group; Wigan History Search Group; Wigan Archaeological (Discovery) Group; The Friends of Wigan Boer War Memorial; Wigan Subscription Bowling Club; Wigan Bridge Club; The Conservative Party; Independent Conservative Group; Community Action Party; Independent Councillor Group; Liberal Democrat Party:

Mesnes Park Lodge - Consultation

The second phase of Mesnes Park restoration work is progressing. Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust recently held a stakeholder consultation for the Group at Wigan Sports Club, home to the magnificent Bull Hey Cricket Field, which is a wonderful attribute for the town centre and remains a worthy cause for inclusion within the Conservation Area.

Details of the design and planning centred around the Park Gates Lodge renovation and an associated training venue were reviewed, with opportunity for feedback to the Group, under the community involvement process. We urge all local Groups and individuals interested in the future of Mesnes Park to attend the next consultation meeting prior to the end of May, so that a significant contribution from the surrounding localities population can be realized to achieve the optimum restoration. Please do not miss this opportunity!

The meeting was kindly attended by Cllrs. Jean Peet from the Central Ward and Bob Brierley from Hindley Green Ward, both have been supportive in giving their time and effort towards ensuring good conservation management in Mesnes Park and Mesnes Field, leading by example to show the relative importance of these in keeping a sensible balance between multi-storey sunlight-reducing ventures and town centre green curtilage. We hope all of the Central Ward Councillors may appreciate this to obtain a consensus.

The Group are requesting constructive suggestions from the neighbourhood and wider locality, regarding potential uses of the Park Lodge and its Training Centre, especially where ideas generate a comprehensive community participation from Wigan Borough. The Park Lodge is due for completion during October 2012, this will provide facilities on three floors to vastly improve the Mesnes Park experience for locals and other visitors. Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust have produced concept landscaping proposals in order to re-create original Victorian Mesnes Park intent, these heritage planting schemes are a valued part of the restoration project and public viewing is advised at our next session.

Mesnes Park - Local Nature Reserve?

Mesnes Conservation Area Group have requested Wigan MBC and WL&CT to progress plans for Local Nature Reserve status within Mesnes Park and to seek many bio-diversity enhancements within the Conservation Area. We hope to engage with the latter to define the incumbent species, possibly with community help? Recently WL&CT has confirmed Mesnes Park will be assessed for suitability of Local Nature Reserve designation in 2012.

It appears beneficial to include Mesnes Field within the entire Park acreage, as previously considered by Council Cabinet. The unbroken rural tract may then allow some capacity for a limited species holding area in the event of distress within Mesnes Park and in the longer term a green belt connection to the lower plantations may be a possibility, in order to accommodate an improved green space to structure equilibrium for the town centre?

If Mesnes Field were to be lost as an amenity green venue, this would be an extremely serious retrograde step in town centre planning terms, since a substantial amount of the town green space may vanish, compromising plans to keep Mesnes Conservation Area intact, as the very name infers, it should be protected. The Group strongly advocate, under the original text of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, precautionary inclusion of Mesnes Field as a Local Nature Reserve also, on the basis of:- 'The opportunities (Mesnes Field) affords for open-air recreation, having regard both to its character and position relative to centres of population'

Historically, both as former immaculately-tended Grammar School and then Mesnes High School Playing Fields, returning the surface conditions to the pristine quality and providing an extensive wildlife sanctuary in the heart of Wigan town centre, gives ample synergy for outdoor sporting and pastime enjoyment that is in harmony with nature and symptomatic of astute town centre planning incorporating the local inhabitant's needs.