Tree houses, a garden bridge over a busy road and an amphitheatre are some of the exciting ideas to come to light in the first look at South Ribble’s brand new park.
Central Park will be created over the next 15 years between Lostock Hall, Bamber Bridge and Penwortham, and South Ribble Council has now drawn up a masterplan of how it anticipates the site to be developed.
Members of the public were asked last year to come up with a wish list of features they would like to see at the park, and those ideas have now been incorporated into the vision.
A wildlife crossing, also known as a garden bridge, has been envisaged to go over the top of the A6 London Way, which is currently seen as a “significant barrier to the connectivity” of the park.
The landmark would “serve as an aid to wild animals, enabling them to cross busy transport routes such as motorways, highways and even railway lines safely”, and could also be used by pedestrians.
An ‘activity hub’ could be created in a tree house-style, with viewing platforms and links to other tree-top boardwalks, as part of the park’s large ‘active zone’.
“Seeing the images in the plan for the first time really helped bring the park to life, and I hope they capture everyone’s imagination”Coun Cliff Hughes
And “challenging and exciting natural play and adventure play facilities for young people” are also on the wish list.
A supervised activities zone will be allocated for ‘paid for’ outdoor pursuits, such as high ropes, a climbing wall and archery.
Other ideas include bike hiring facilities for people to make use of the proposed cycle and mountain bike tracks around the site, and a skate park.
Fishing facilities, community allotments, an amphitheatre and orchard are also on the cards.
The brainchild of Coun Cliff Hughes, the council’s cabinet member for planning and housing, Central Park will incorporate the main path already established along the old railway line from Todd Lane North in Lostock Hall, past the Vernon Carus site in Penwortham, and towards the old tram road and flood plains near the River Ribble to the south of Preston.
“We have made a tremendous amount of progress with Central Park since we announced the ambitious project 10 months ago,” Coun Hughes said. “And this masterplan represents another hugely exciting step forward.
“Although it’s still relatively early days in the grand scheme of things, some fantastic ideas have started to take shape, and we can now really start to dream about what the park might look like.
“Seeing the images in the plan for the first time really helped bring the park to life, and I hope they capture everyone’s imagination.
“They will hopefully bring home to people the sheer scale of our ambitions, and how much of an asset the park could become to our borough and our quality of life.
“There are all the things you would expect to find in proposals for a new park, like playgrounds, sports pitches and amenities for visitors, along with plenty of ideas that would give Central Parks a truly unique offering.”
The masterplan has been developed to set out how the site is set to take shape over time, providing the basis against which detailed planning applications for individual schemes will be judged.
The document says: “Early community engagement provided us with some strong recommendations and included some realistically achievable ideas.”
The activities which received the most support from the public consultation were mountain bike trails, trim trails and jogging routes, natural play areas, adventure play, a natural amphitheatre, entrance and gateway features, and a cafe.
Six main uses have been identified in the masterplan, which will enable the park to be split into different ‘zones’. They are sports, active, biodiversity, environmental, supervised activities, and an arrival zone.
The environmental zone aims to “be sustainable through organic farming and renewable energy, and will provide education and demonstration of environmentally-friendly techniques of food production, animal rearing, energy production, and protection of nature and wildlife.”
Heritage features will also be a priority to remember the old steam engines site, and a flexible space will be needed to accommodate ‘pop up’ events such as farmers’ markets, ice rinks and galas.
The masterplan is set to go before the council’s planning committee next week, for councillors to vote on launching a six-week public consultation.
Any comments made during the consultation will be considered when the council puts together a final masterplan, and once that is formally adopted by the planning committee, the delivery of the project can begin.