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The Forestry Commission is offering a grant of almost £300,000 to a landmark scheme that aims to create a ‘green’ cycling and walking route around the city of Preston.
The Preston Guild Wheel is a 21 mile route that will encircle Preston, providing a fantastic, environmentally friendly transport network and will improve access to a natural environment for thousands of residents and visitors.
The three-metre wide, continuous, barrier-free route passes through six areas of woodland. The Forestry Commission funding, if accepted by Preston council chiefs at their meeting on Thursday, December 16, will be spent on improving access to these woodlands, as well as on other landscaping along the Wheel.
James Bickley, Forestry Commission Woodland Officer in Lancashire, said:
“This is a fantastic visionary project that will provide residents of Preston with a wonderful, environmentally friendly transport network that can be used by commuters or as a leisure destination in its own right.
“The Forestry Commission is continually working to improve public access to areas of woodland as they are recognised as being great for our wellbeing. We are also really keen on encouraging people to take up healthy exercise in our forests and woodlands and the Preston Guild Wheel is a fantastic example of a scheme that will tick both of those boxes.”
The Forestry Commission’s cash would provide almost 3.5km of cycleway, footbridges, 13 benches, picnic tables, waymarkers, interpretation boards, natural play equipment, fencing and gates as well as tree planting and maintenance.
Peter Ward, chairman of the Preston Guild Wheel project, said:
“I think that this is a magnificent grant offer by the Forestry Commission and a very important one. Their funding would have a significant impact on the landscape and infrastructure and help us deliver a quality scheme for the people of Preston.”
The Preston Guild Wheel is the legacy project for the 2012 Preston Guild civic celebrations that are held every 20 years in recognition of the city being granted the right by King Henry II in 1179 to have a guild merchant. This was the then town’s first Royal charter.
Councillor Anthony Gornall, cabinet member for Environment and Regeneration at Preston City Council, said:
“We are very grateful to the Forestry Commission for this grant offer, which will be considered at our council meeting on December 16. It will make a tremendous difference to the Guild Wheel project, which will be a lasting legacy from the 2012 Guild.”
The Wheel’s route passes through a varied landscape, including the city centre, historic parks and gardens, coastal estuary, rolling farmland, a river valley, reclaimed quarries and woodlands. It also links to all the major urban areas of Preston providing access to schools, places of work and other local services.
Lancashire County Council councillor Tim Ashton said:
"I am delighted the County Council is working in partnership with the Forestry Commission. This funding will be matched by the County Council's contribution, enabling the people of Preston and Lancashire to enjoy a much greener landscape on the route of the wheel."
The Preston Guild Wheel is led by Lancashire County Council in Partnership with Preston City Council, Groundwork, BTCV, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, SUSTRANS, PCT, the Forestry Commission, and other local sponsors.
Notes to editor
- Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland
- Forestry Commission England runs the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) to support and promote the national and localised delivery of forestry policy programmes. EWGS is a part of the Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE). Further information about these schemes can be found at:
- The Forestry Commission (FC) North West England (NWE) supports the delivery of widespread public benefits across the region, using woodland management and creation as the basis for change. The FC NWE region has a diverse remit; as a grant giving body to the woodland sector; the forestry regulatory body; helping the region to address climate change by developing wood fuel supply; supporting and developing the region's forest and woodland industries; actively promoting and protecting the Northwest's natural heritage (especially ancient trees and woodlands) and enabling communities across the region to live healthier lives. For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland-grants
- Preston Guild is a historic celebration dating back to 1179, and represents a significant element of the North West’s rich cultural heritage and tourism offer. The holding of the Guild was a major occasion and the cause of much celebration across the city. Preston Guild is the only Guild still celebrated in the UK and as such is unique.
- 2012 will be an exciting time for the city of Preston as it celebrates the Preston Guild for the first time this millennium and since being granted city status by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. A comprehensive programme of creative, innovative and inspiring events is being drawn up in association with community groups, partners and sponsors from Preston and across the North West. The full event programme will be launched in September 2011. The Guild in 2012 will be a celebration of culture, sports, arts, business and most importantly people.
- Media contact: James Bickley, 07774 227640.