AN AMBITIOUS environmental project by a school in Leigh could see large stretches of unused and run-down land transformed into a mini sanctuary for wildlife and wildflowers.

Twelve Apostles School in Westleigh is working with the council to secure sponsorship for the scheme which could breathe new life into the surroundings.

The proposal is to transform an area to the southern boundary of the school’s KS1 playground into a wildlife corridor by connecting the green space of the western end of the school grounds to the wildlife area to the east.

The school and the council are bidding to rejuvenate the area so it can be enjoyed by pupils and local residents.

Cllr Paul Prescott, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “It’s fantastic to see another school in the borough that is keen to expand their schoolchildren’s learning and experiences in an eco-friendly project.

“Once complete, it will be great to see new wildlife and wildflowers in the area that will be mutually beneficial for the school and the residents of Westleigh.”

Two housing developers, Countryside and Brookhouse, have pledged support to the programme with £1,500 and £300 donations respectively.

Gordon Innes, managing director, Partnerships Manchester & Cheshire East, Countryside, said: “When we first heard about this project and Wigan’s ambitions to have a greener and wilder borough, it really piqued our interest and got our team excited.

“The prospect of helping to create a green wildlife corridor that will not only be of genuine value to the local community and wildlife, but be here for future generations as well, was something we jumped at the chance of being involved in.

“We have recently started construction on the former North Leigh Park area nearby, and one of our key design principles that echoes this project is to create carefully considered green space that attracts more wildlife into the borough and provides relaxing spaces for everyone to appreciate. We can’t wait to see this school project come to fruition.”

Leigh Journal:

Wigan Council Director for Environment Paul Barton, Countryside Associate Director Allan McGregor, Twelve Apostles Catholic Primary School Year 2 Teacher Catherine Featherstone, Wigan Council Environmental Education Officer Allison McIntosh and Year 2 pupils at the site which will be converted into a wildlife area

Twelve Apostles head teacher Sheenagh Newton said: "The children and staff are really excited about this project and appreciative of the support and funding . This will be a wonderful opportunity for our children and aesthetically pleasing for local residents."

The scheme falls in line with Wigan Council’s Naturalising the Borough project which is looking to increase biodiversity and enhance wildlife. This stems from the peak of the coronavirus outbreak when most of the council’s grass cutting services ceased.

Officers are continuing to evaluate what other sites could benefit from reduced cutting services as they build a picture of what the borough could like in the future.

A number of areas have already been identified such as Golborne Park, Norley Quarry/Rosehill Park, Lodge Road playing field, East Lancs Road verges, Walsmley Park and Amberswood Common.