Fingers crossed for £2m Margam Park revamp
HISTORY could be brought back to life at Margam Park where the future of a £2 million upgrade now rests with the National Lottery.
Council chiefs have their fingers crossed that their bid for a share of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Parks For People initiative is successful.
They have put in for £1.6 million, and have already secured £218,000 in match- funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
Now, because of a tight deadline, the council is looking to spend £46,000 of its own money preparing vital documents even though there is no guarantee the Lottery cash will be approved.
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Sport, culture and active living co-ordinator Neil Thomas said: “The council is realistic that it needs to maximise any funding opportunities that could arise and has produced a master plan to facilitate this.
“Part of the master plan is to restore and improve the conservation of the formal pleasure gardens, the focal point of the park.
“The pleasure gardens comprise the area surrounding the Orangery and castle and contain the majority of the historic structures and buildings of the country park.”
Under the heritage proposals, improvements would be carried out to the Broadwalk, Castle and Orangery terraces, the Temple of Four Seasons, the Ivy Cottage, the Japanese Garden, the ha-ha and water features.
As well as paying for the physical work, part of the application includes cash for management and staffing, training and audience and volunteer programme developments.
The Heritage Lottery Fund approved the first stage of the application last December, awarding Neath Port Talbot £37,500 to progress to the second and final stage.
Its application went in last month and a decision is due in December. But the match- funding from the European Regional Development Fund has to be spent by December next year, a comparatively tight timescale.
At a meeting on Thursday, councillors will be asked to allow the authority to spend £46,400 of its own funds preparing tender documents on the assumption the Lottery bid is successful.
Mr Thomas said: “This approach will enable the overall project to the delivered within the funding deadlines.”
Neath Port Talbot has already spent £900,000 on restoring the park’s Citrus House, a grade two Victorian building that fell into disrepair and closed to visitors a few years back.
Friends of Margam Park chairman Nigel Fitzhugh has previously stated: “The improvements are long overdue but my understanding is cash has always been the problem.”