A Community group has taken control of a Freehold recreation ground which it describes as a “hidden gem”.
The Gregson Community Association this week signed a £1 a year lease on the Highfield Recreation Ground with Lancaster City Council after five years of hard work and fundraising.
The association was enlisted by Highfield Regeneration Partnership (HRP) to help realise its vision for the Derwent Road facility.
A first phase of works, expected to cost up to £200,000, includes improvements to disabled access and fencing, plus restoration of two double tennis courts that have lain derelict for 15 years.
One will be converted into a free to use multi-use games area for tennis, five-a-side football, volleyball and netball, while the other will be available for bookings and will also be used by Lancaster Royal Grammar School.
The ground’s two bowling greens will continue to be used and a second phase of works would include a refurbishment of the 1930s pavilion.
Its first floor would be re-instated and would effectively be an extension of the Gregson Centre, offering a cafe and meeting space.
HRP has finalised a lottery bid that will bring the fundraising tally to £110,000, while a £50,000 bid for Sport England funding is also being finalised.
Other funders have included Lancashire County Council, the Lancashire Environment Fund and the Natwest Bank Community Fund.
Thanking HRP committee members for their hard work, its chair, Alison Halladay, said: “I’m delighted that five years of hard work by a dedicated group of local residents has come to fruition.
Chair of the Gregson Community Association, Billy Pye ,said: “This project is very welcome indeed and demonstrates the Gregson’s commitment to community life as it enters it 4th decade.”
Work will last until April 2013 and a funday is planned from 11am on September 15