Backers are being sought to raise £1m to draw up plans for a massive new park stretching more than 800 acres through old industrial land in Salford, Bury and Bolton.
Under the working title City Forest Park, the vision is being progressed by a group featuring Bruntwood owners the Oglesby family’s charitable trust and their City of Trees initiative, local authorities, architect BDP and the Forestry Commission.
The area takes in Prestwich Forest Park, Drinkwater Park, Silverdale and Hurst Wood, all managed by the Forestry Commission.
City of Trees is hoping to secure around £1m of investment within the first three years to help bring the vision for City Forest Park to life. This investment will come through grants, private funding and sponsorship.
The site is the same scale as New York’s Central Park and is connected by river, road and cycleway to Manchester city centre.
Tony Hothersall from City of Trees said: “With the right investment, we will be able to realise City Forest Park’s full potential and give the region the inspiring green space and culture hub it deserves and needs.
“We can transform the landscape by planting thousands of trees, bring woodland back into use and creating wildflower meadows.
“Added to this we aspire to invest in new paths, cycle ways and picnic areas, signage and way-markers to ensure that it is visitor friendly site for communities to use and make their own.”
City Forest Park would absorb former coal mining, chemical works and manufacturing sites. Earlier regeneration efforts have included Government funding in 2007 from the Newlands programme under the banner of Lower Irwell Valley Integrated Action. The Forestry Commission used the money to create a series of interlinking path networks, and plant thousands of trees.
City of Trees wants to build on this previous investment as the site is under utilised but has incredible potential. It is the largest public green space in Manchester and already has 250,000 trees.
Added to this it has a varied habitat, consisting of woodland, meadow heath and wetland and is home to more than 300 species of wildlife.
City Forest Park also has the potential to stage events and the team at City of Trees will be working with regional arts organisations to invite them to create a calendar of events there. This could be everything from pop-up markets, to theatre performances to picnics or cycle rides.
Architect BDP has drawn up artist’s impressions of how the site could look with phased investment.
Hothersall added: “Nothing exists on this scale in Greater Manchester and we need to act now in order to create our City Forest Park for the future, truly cementing us at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.
“Make an investment today and realise the vision for Greater Manchester’s City Forest Park.”
City of Trees is made up of a partnership of the following organisations spearheaded by The Oglesby Charitable Trust and Community Forest Trust: Atlantic Gateway Parklands, Bruntwood, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Harworth Estates, Peel Holdings, Viridor, Woodland Trust, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, GM Low Carbon Hub, BDP, Civic Engineers, Green Blue Urban, United Utilities, Green Blue Urban.