The Alnwick Garden Trust is to bid for up to £25 million of Big Lottery Fund money to secure plans for the final phase of its development.
It is the first time Alnwick, which had 438,000 visitors in 2004, has applied for national funding. Previously, it received 47 per cent of its funds from the European Union Development Fund and Northumberland Strategic Partnership single programme. The remaining 53 per cent came from the private sector.
The first two phases of the development are almost complete, costing £33 million to date. Phase three would include the completion of a new pavilion and visitor centre, six more themed gardens, a play area and a bridge linking the garden with the car park.
The charity needs to win backing from the Living Landmark Fund, part of the Big Lottery Fund.
Alnwick fundraising director Elizabeth Smith is going through the application process and met lottery chiefs last week to discuss ways to increase chances of funding. “We need to impress on them how the development will promote learning and skills development, social inclusion and accessibility.
“We are also building with true quality in mind and hope this will secure Alnwick as a living landmark,” she added.
If it succeeds, Alnwick hopes to complete the final phase of the project in 2008. This could generate up to £150 million in economic benefits for the North East over a 10-year period.
Since October 2001, Alnwick has brought in 1,571,000 visitors. In the past year, visitor numbers have increased from 66,989 in July 2004 to 80,409 in July 2005.
The Living Landmark Fund supports projects that help communities to improve their quality of life and environment.
# Alnwick head gardener Chris Gough (HW, 20 November 2003) has moved to become head gardener at a private home in Felixkirk, North Yorkshire. He said: “The pay is a little bit better than the 30K Alnwick is offering.”
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