In the period from 1996 to 2000 the Millennium Commission ran an initiative to provide new areas of open space that could be enjoyed by local communities. They were to be breathing spaces — places for relaxation, play and enjoyment of nature and pleasant surroundings. They could be small or large and in urban or rural locations. They were called MILLENNIUM GREENS.
Some of the criteria that had to be met were:
During that period Henbury Parish Council were looking for a way to provide an outdoor recreation facility and in 1998 took the far-sighted decision to establish a Millennium Green in the village. They invested a great deal of time and effort in fulfilling the above conditions laid down by the Millennium Commission, who provided 50% of the fund for the land purchase.
The rest of the money was raised from local subscription and grants from the Landfill Tax Scheme, Macclesfield Borough Council, Manchester Airport Community Trust and several others. In September 1998 a charitable trust, known as Henbury Millennium Green Trust, was set up to purchase the land, create the Green and maintain it in perpetuity for the inhabitants of Henbury. It joined forces with the Parish Church of St Thomas, Henbury, (who own half an acre of the Green adjacent to the Vicarage), and finally took possession of the land between Pepper Street and the Vicarage in March 1999.
Working to a plan developed by a landscape architect, the first step was for local volunteers to plant 1500 trees followed by the creation of the wildflower meadow, children's play area and footpath by a landscape contractor. Finally the sundial, with its 1 tonne gnomon of Kerridge stone, was aligned with great accuracy by the thirteenth Astronomer Royal to tell the time at this location.
In 2011 the Henbury Millennium Green Trustees approached the Parochial Church Council of the Parish Church of St Thomas, Henbury to ask if they would be willing to sell their part of the Green to the Trust. This land was held in trust for the PCC by the Chester Diocesan Board of Finance. It was agreed to sell the land and the sale was completed in 2013. Thus, the Millennium Green Trust now owns and maintains the whole of the Henbury Millennium Green.
This piece of land is integral to the function of the Green as a community facility. It includes the flattest part of the Green, where the Marquee is erected for both the Summer Fete and also the Bonfire Event. It was felt that bringing this piece of land under the control of the Millennium Green Trust would strengthen their ability to maintain the Green in its current form in perpetuity for the inhabitants of Henbury, which is their primary aim.
Following consultation via the 2010 Parish Plan, the Green was selected as the place to install professional play equipment for children under 10, and local residents formed a team to arrange for sponsorship and purchase of the equipment. Equipment was selected to be in keeping with the aims of the Trust, and finance was provided by WREN, community grant funds from Cheshire East Council and Manchester Airport , and from Peak and Plains. The new play area was officially opened by David Rutley MP in July 2014.