A huge new park to be created across South Ribble will become one of the first built for 50 years.
South Ribble Council hasunveiled plans to create Central Park, stretching from Todd Lane at Lostock Hall along the line of a disused railway line, and out to the former Vernon Carus factory at Penwortham.
Today, a council leader said it was moving to put protection orders on to land in the area and create footpaths.
Cliff Hughes, the council’s cabinet member for planning, said it hoped to be able to open up fishing lakes around the Vernon Carus site.
He said: “If Avenham Park had not been built, you could guarantee there would be houses all over it by now, but because it is protected it has remained as it is today.
“In the same way the Victorians protected spaces in Preston, we want to make sure future generations of South Ribble benefit.
“Kids deserve open spaces and it is wrong to keep building on the green spaces we have remaining, while we still have these spaces, we should do what we can to protect them.”
The council will now put together a masterplan for the development in the coming months which will outline where the park will be.
It agreed to the creation of Central Park when its cabinet accepted the final draft of its Local Development Framework, which set out where up to 4,000 new homes will be built in the borough over the next 15 years.
It outlined the Central Park as running from Bamber Bridge and Lostock Hall in the south, through to the River Ribble and the River Darwen in the north.
A report said: “The park will improve the natural environment and visual appearance of the existing built-up area of Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge, creating new parkland and open spaces alongside housing and employment sites.
“Central Park will form a linear park with a range of uses and recreational spaces.
“The provision of a new park in this part of the borough will attract further investment, and enhance the health and well-being of both local residents and visitors.”
David Hunt, curator of the Museum of South Ribble, said the borough’s only civic park was at Worden Park in Leyland, gifted to the town by the Farington family as part of the Festival of Britain in 1951.
It has subsequently created nature reserves, including in Cuerden Valley at Bamber Bridge and Hurst Green in Penwortham.
He said: “Preston was at the forefront of the creation of public parks, initially with Avenham and Miller in the 1860s, followed by other public parks during the cotton famine of that time.
“Then, the Government offered money at very low rates of interest to allow for people to be employed in public works, so Preston got this money to create parks such as Moor Park.”
Steve Turner, of the Home Builders’ Federation, said its members would welcome the creation of parks.
He said: “Councils have been handed a lot more power under the changes to the planning laws.
“But with that power comes a lot of responsibility to ensure there is land available to build homes.
“But, if you are in the house-building industry, you need to create an environment where people want to live, and green spaces are a big part of that.”