Heaton Park Strategic Framework

Heaton Hall

Heaton Park is a large family friendly park, owned and managed by Manchester City Council, four miles to the north of the city centre.

Heaton Park is a large family friendly park, owned and managed by Manchester City Council, four miles to the north of the city centre.

Once an estate owned by the Wilton family, the Park has been in public ownership since 1902. A Grade I listed country house designed by James Wyatt sits at the centre of the park. The Hall is currently closed to the public. Yet the park remains hugely popular with people from across Manchester and the North West, and there is great potential for the Park and Hall to deliver more for the local community, economy and environment.

In 2014 Manchester City Council commissioned a consortium led by the National Trust with Barker Langham, Five Lines Consulting and Sarah Staniforth to develop a robust, sustainable and commercially sound strategic plan for the Park and Hall for the next ten years. This purpose of this plan was to properly position the Park and Hall and establish the case for the further restoration of its heritage assets and character.  The National Trust External Partnerships Team and our consortium of advisers and consultants used our own experience of managing historic properties and of balancing conservation with public access and commercial activity to advise the City Council.

We identified a vision and authored a statement to that effect, defined the Spirit of Place, wrote a statement of significance and identified the key issues facing Heaton as well as some of the possible solutions. Our work also included mapping the visitor journey, identifying touchpoints and hubs and developing options for commercial opportunities as well as soft market testing.

Our final report included recommendations designed to enhance and improve visitor experience, the visitor offer, commercial performance, volunteering, governance arrangements and the restoration and conservation of heritage and environmental assets.

The initial findings were well received and many of the short and medium term recommendations have already been implemented, including developing a new brand and identity, introducing new signage and maps across the site, building a new website, refreshing communications, working to improve the catering offer, improving programming and undertaking urgent conservation work. Work has also started to address the longer term ambitions set out in the report.  The City Council has undertaken master-planning and has prepared an investment programme based on this. This has resulted in direct investment in the natural and historic fabric of the Park, Hall and visitor offer.

" We were delighted to be able to use the expertise of the National Trust when we were looking at the repositioning and development of the 600-acre Heaton Park and Hall. Working with a consortium of cultural planning experts, the Trust team assisted us in recognising the unique potential of these heritage assets. Our work with them has enabled us to begin a major redevelopment project that will open up the Park to a wider number of visitors and help us to protect it for generations to come."
- Fran Toms, Cultural Development Lead, Manchester City Council