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Manchester's First Official Country Park

Heaton Park has been awarded official country park status...but what about the Hall?

Published on December 21st 2012.

Manchester's First Official Country Park

HEATON PARK is the first Manchester park to be accredited with country park status and is one of only nine sites recognised by Natural England's accreditation scheme in North West England.

To be eligible for country park status parks must meet a series of criteria set out by Natural England including the promotion of biodiversity, have easily to follow footpaths, cycle paths and bridleways, provide opportunities for the local community to be involved in the management and development of the park, and be at least 10 hectares in size.

Heaton Park - The TempleHeaton Park - The Temple

Councillor Rosa Battle, executive member for culture and leisure said: "Achieving country park status is a real accolade for Heaton Park.  We are committed to providing the highest quality facilities and services in the park so to receive this national recognition is a real coup. Our staff work tirelessly to make this green space suitable for the community, families, one off visitors and everyone that comes into the park.  I would hope that our new found status may also lead to more people visiting the park and continuing to visit as they can be confident of the facilities they can expect to find."

Heaton Park can now display their country park accreditation and the park will appear on Natural England's website list of accredited country parks.

Country Parks were established as a result of the 1968 Countryside Act and there are currently more than 400 sites that call themselves country parks in England.

The application to Natural England was made by the Heaton Park team and Manchester City Council's Environmental Strategy team. They will be working with Regeneration teams across the city to identify other potential Country Parks in Manchester.

Heaton HallHeaton Hall

Confidential Comment

Not sure about this. Does country park status mean more money for the park, does it mean an excuse for progressively less maintenance as Heaton Park lapses into wildness?

We hope, given the undoubted commitment of the park staff, that this is not the case

We'll pursue these questions after Christmas, nail it all down.

The problem with country park status is that Heaton Park is simply not a country park.

It was, and should remain, a landscaped estate, centred on a historic house, aka a stately home. It is not in the country or even in the fringe country, it is in the City of Manchester. It is not, for example, Tandle Hill Park, or Werneth Low, it is and always was, much more formal than this, despite the man made 'natural' areas.

Heaton Hall InteriorHeaton Hall InteriorWhat is absolutely certain is that Heaton Hall, the centre-piece of the park, is in danger of mouldering away. It's to the city's shame that the west wing of this lovely building has been a roofed shell since a fire in the 1983 - yep thirty years ago.

Built in 1772, designed by James Wyatt, Heaton Hall lies closed to the public, shuttered off, and yet it has been described as 'a building of refinement and elegance not exceeded in any English house of these years'. 

Achieving country park status is one thing. The darkening of this magnificent house is a far greater issue. This is the new age of austerity, of cutbacks, but Heaton Hall is also Manchester's greatest historic asset outside the city centre. 

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousDecember 21st 2012.

Since when has Rosa Battle been an exec member? What ever happened to Mike????

Poster BoyDecember 22nd 2012.

Where are all the slacktivists?

Can you imagine if this building was owned by Alex Langsam or Britannia Hotels?

Apart from being a Grade 1 Listed Building and being at a higher category of being 'At Risk', is there any difference between this building and the London Road Fire Station?

Can anyone smell the stale stench of hypocrisy...?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 22nd 2012.

It's not in the Northern Quarter, so the council don't care about it.

Not that they care about heritage anyway

AnonymousDecember 24th 2012.

They can find the money to "fix" Library Walk, whilst letting Heaton Hall Rots...

Paul LoudonJanuary 5th 2013.

The west wing fire was actually in 1983. The Hall itself was open to the public (including weddings) until about two and a half years ago, however city council staff cuts made manning the hall impossible and both Heaton and Wythenshawe Hall had to close as a result. Prior to these cutbacks, there was often talk of lottery funding for restoration etc, obviously this didn't happen. It's a shame that some of the revenue from, for example the incredibly successful Stone Roses gig couldn't be diverted in order to restore the Hall. Hypocrisy indeed; such a large concert would not have been possible were it not for the Hall and grounds being built and preserved in the first place.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 5th 2013.

Paul you're right about the date . Apologies. And now corrected.

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