THE future of countryside sites across the county are set to be revealed next week.

Landmarks including Wycoller Country Park, which inspired Charlotte Brontë, were earmarked by Lancashire County Council for either closure or transfer because of £262million in funding cuts revealed in 2015.


Two-years-ago the council said it could no longer afford to run the 93 countryside sites and said it hoped to transfer responsibility of them by March 2018.

Cllr Marcus Johnston, the cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, will make the announcement next week.

A petition, which has already attracted more than 300 signatures, has been launched to appeal to the county to fund Wycoller Park until a new backer can be found.

Pendle councillors Paul White, Jenny Purcell and Joe Cooney are behind the petition.

The ruined Wycoller Hall, which is based in the grounds, was the model for Ferndean Manor in Brontë’s Jane Eyre and the historic venue is the starting point for the Brontë Way which leads to the Parsonage Museum in nearby Haworth.

Cllr White said: “We are really pleased with the uptake of the petition.

“It’s very important that this park stays open as it will be much more attractive to a new backer if it can be transferred as a going concern instead of having to be shut down.

“I’m disappointed the deal with the trust has fallen through but now we must do all we can to try and find a new partner.

“We are not asking the council to fund it forever, just until a new deal can be done.”

In 2015 a petition by the Friends of Wycoller to support stop the park’s closure was signed by more than 6,700 people.

Last year the Lancashire Wildlife Trust expressed an interest in taking over the majority of the council’s countryside sites but said it needed funding from the council in doing so.

A council spokesman said: “The county council agreed in 2016 to fund the countryside service from reserves until March, 31, 2018, so there is no need to find funding to ensure Wycoller Country Park’s continued operation in the immediate term.

“A decision is due to be taken in the coming days by the cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services regarding the future of the countryside sites which will address people’s concerns about the future of many of the key sites.”