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Visionary proposals for a host of iconic Black Country landmarks are a step closer to a
£multi-million award by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG), as part of a Black Country-wide bid for
sweeping environmental transformation.

Led by Black Country Consortium (BCC) - the organisation tasked with the future of the area
- ‘Black Country as Urban Park’ is one of only six visionary community projects short-listed
nationally to go through to the second stage of BIG’s Living Landmarks: The People’s
Millions programme, run in conjunction with ITV.

The Black Country’s bid is based on three years’ work by BCC, the four local authorities and
other partners in the form of the Black County Study, which concluded that environmental
transformation will be essential to secure economic growth and an improved quality of life for

BCC’s visionary plans will see the creation of major flagship landmarks at sites across the
Black Country – Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Sandwell. Other more local examples
of environmental transformation proposed by communities are also to be included in the final

Proposals see Dudley’s Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve (NNR) and Seven Sisters
Mines being fully restored with iconic new educational and visitor facilities that symbolise its
unique global importance.

Now in its golden jubilee year as the UK’s first NNR for geology, the ambition is to make
Wren’s Nest one of the UK’s principal sites for education and understanding of how the
Earth shapes our living experience of work and nature.
Plans also envisage an iconic ‘green bridge’ linking Walsall and West Bromwich town
centres via their premier parks – Walsall Arboretum and Dartmouth Park - the Black
Country’s largest and most important corridor of countryside.

Proposals anticipate full restoration of both parks for celebrations, festivals and learning as
well as key gateway features at each end of the green space corridor to bridge directly into
the two town centres.

Wolverhampton City Council’s emphasis will be on widespread regeneration of its canal
network and surrounding environments.

Proposals envisage freeing up canal-side access to existing and new parks and green
spaces, creating opportunities to design landmark buildings, bridges, entrances, landscape
and furniture to enhance the natural environment and historic landscape.

In addition, communities, voluntary groups and young people throughout the Black Country
will be invited to propose a range of other models for transforming environments in their own
local neighbourhoods. A selection of these local models will also be included in the final bid.

Each of the six projects selected by BIG to go forward to the next stage of the competition
has been awarded up to £500,000 to develop detailed proposals by the spring of next year.

The short-listed projects aim to transform, revitalise and regenerate their communities, with
the winning project being decided by a televised public vote.

Speaking for the Black Country Consortium, Cllr Roger Lawrence said: “This is a marvellous
opportunity to show the rest of Britain that the Black Country is committed to
transformational change.

“Our canals and green spaces, our globally unique geology and our great industrial heritage
are tremendous assets that these landmark developments will make accessible for all.

“But this project is not just about what we can do with some of our most important natural
and historic environments. It is about giving a say to as many as possible of the million
people who live here. It is about real change for the long term and especially about involving
the children and young people who will be working and raising their own families here in the
years to come.”

The Black Country’s competitors for the final single grant include the Eden project in
Cornwall, The National Museum of Science & Industry in Swindon, Nottingham’s Sherwood
Forest project, a waterways project in Somerset, and a nationwide cycleways scheme
proposed by Sustrans.

Cllr Lawrence added: “These are all marvellous projects and competition for the TV prize will
be tough. We have the vision and we have the support of all the main public, private and
voluntary agencies. But our greatest strength will be the ambition and active involvement of
the people and communities who live here.”

BIG’s national committee of experts in architecture, regeneration and the environment will
make the final decision in September 2007 on projects to be recommended to go through to
the public vote.

ENDS (689 words)

Notes to editors:
The Big Lottery Fund is the joint operating name of the New Opportunities Fund and the
National Lottery Charities Board (which made grants under the name of the Community
Fund). The Big Lottery Fund, launched on 1 June 2004, is distributing half of all National
Lottery good cause funding across the UK.

The Big Lottery Fund’s Living Landmarks Programme will award £140million across the
UK to initiatives that have been designed to inspire communities to transform, revitalise and
regenerate the places where they live, through social and community projects and major
infrastructure investments.

The Black Country Study is managed by the Black Country Consortium on behalf of the
four local authorities, and aims to provide a vision and direction for the future urban
renaissance of the Black Country in accordance with the Regional Spatial Strategy, and for
continuing growth and competitiveness up to 2031. The key objectives of the Black Country
Study, published in May, are to secure a transformation of the Black Country’s economy,
environment and quality of life by 2031. It also addresses the challenge of a declining
manufacturing base, low educational attainment and poor and inappropriate skills. The Study
is an integrated approach to the challenge of decline in the Black Country and proposes a
strategy for renaissance, growth and prosperity.

For more information about the Black Country Study, visit or contact Black Country Consortium on 0121 569 2396.
For Black Country Consortium press enquiries, contact: Juliet Betterton or Sophie Hunt,
betterpr, tel: 01527 881965, fax: 01527 881985, email:

For Big Lottery Fund Press Office, contact: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours: 07867 500 572
Public enquiries line: 08454 102030
Textphone: 08456 021 659
Full details of Big Lottery Fund projects and grant awards are available at

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