By Jo Cooksey
There are big plans afoot at Haigh Hall in Wigan, to turn the Grade II listed hall, and parkland in to a top North West leisure attraction. The hall and its surrounding buildings are currently on the Historic England’s 2015 At Risk list but after a £6m restoration by Wirral based Contessa Hotels the hall will become a 4 star boutique hotel. In the grounds there will be an adventure golf course, high ropes and a children’s play area. The Haigh Hall project will benefit from an £12m investment over the next three years, relieving the council and local taxpayers of an £8m maintenance burden. It is expected to attract over half a million visitors annually, putting £30m back into the local economy and ensuring that the Haigh Hall estate is safe for many generations to come.
What caught our attention are the plans for a new regional food and drink destination. The old stable yard, which is currently home to some of Wigan Council’s departments, will be transformed in to the The Kitchen Courtyard and house a myriad of local, small artisan producers, cafes and tea rooms. Amongst the companies expected to occupy the units so far are an ice cream parlour, a microbrewery, a butchers cum greengrocers, a bakery and a Belgian chocolatier.
Cllr Paul Kenny, Cabinet Member for Leisure, said: “We’re creating a high quality food and drink offer at the Kitchen Courtyard as part of the wider development of the park and it’s really exciting to see it starting to take shape.
“The Kitchen Courtyard provides a great opportunity for local and regional food and drink producers, suppliers and retailers and we are confident that it will grow to be a major attraction.”
Richard Cort, owner of Holden’s Ice Cream, said: “There is a real appetite for food and drink attractions. This is a wonderful opportunity for some of the of the region’s top food and drink small businesses to come together to showcase their wares and talents, as well as feeding and watering the many visitors expected to the park.”
The refurbishment of the stable block is due to commence in the next couple of weeks and the attraction is expected to open in Spring 2016.