Worden Hall to spring into life?

Delighted: Shaw Trust is moving into part of Worden Hall
Delighted: Shaw Trust is moving into part of Worden Hall

An under-used area of Leyland’s Worden Park is in the running to get a £30,000 boost and be transformed into a new community attraction.

The Derby Wing of the historic Worden Hall has been empty since the South Ribble Arts Forum disbanded and left the premise in August.

Now, it has been revealed that national charity, the Shaw Trust, wants to take over the site and offer arts sessions to disabled and disadvantaged people.

The charity also hopes to invest £30,000 into improving the facility in the next year, and support big events in Leyland in the future, such as the annual festival and Christmas activities.

It also proposes to bring back the Chinese New Year celebrations in the town, which used to be organised by the South Ribble Arts Forum.

The building is owned by South Ribble Council, and a decision over whether the scheme should go ahead will be made at a cabinet meeting tonight.

Coun Stephen Robinson, the council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “I really welcome the idea, and it’s great news that the Shaw Trust wants to invest in the future of Worden Park. The charity is very much apart of the community, and if this goes ahead, it will mean we are one step closer to the completion of Worden Park.

“There’s always more to be done, but with the Brothers of Charity working to bring the Walled Garden back to life as well, things are looking good.

“I think the more organisations like this we can attract to Leyland, the more people will feel pride in the town.”

It is proposed that Shaw Trust will offer community arts at Worden Hall, including painting, drawing, pottery and music, and crafts including woodwork and joinery, with the aim of preparing people for work, find jobs, and live more independently.

The charity has already supported the council with regeneration projects in the area, such as Farington Mill Gardens, and street furniture in the borough.

The Shaw Trust has pledged to invest money towards improving things such as security, decoration and electrics in Worden Hall in the first year, but in the longer term wishes to extend its 
vacancy to include the Marsden Theatre and Conservatory at Worden Park too.

The council has already set aside some funding to improve footpaths around the park in 2013, due to their ‘dangerously deteriorating condition’ and to make the courtyards ‘safe and more useful for events such as markets and fetes’.

Shaw Trust intends to secure more funding in the future to stay at Worden Hall and improve facilities there, including a lift, covered walkways between the buildings, and accessibility improvements. It has also offered to maintain gardens around the main building, such as the sensory garden. The meeting will be held at the Civic Centre on West Paddock, Leyland, at 6pm.