Exciting proposals for future improvements to Tawd Valley Park were presented and discussed at a meeting at West Lancashire College in Skelmersdale.
Local people were joined by local Councillors and Council officials to receive feedback on plans which have now been incorporated into a draft Masterplan.
Presentations by West Lancashire CVS, Groundwork CLM and West Lancashire Borough Council outlined views expressed in the public consultation that the Park needs to retain its many existing benefits.
Respondents were keen the natural habitat of woodland and waterway is preserved, whilst steps are taken to clean the water entering the river and remove the large amounts of rubbish.
A number of potential developments are being considered to make the park of interest for more people to visit. These include a BMX track, revitalising the amphitheatre as a working performance space, creating a new visitor centre, improving the fishing lake and finding a way of commemorating the mining heritage of the Tawd Valley and Skelmersdale.
Other proposals outlined included four new wetland areas incorporating reed beds to filter the ground water that flows from neighbouring housing estates into the river. There are also plans to repair much of the existing infrastructure such as footpaths and bridges.
Councillor Ian Moran, Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council, introduced the borough council's presentation in which the authority outlined its commitment to the project. This includes making available significant funding resources from monies collected from new development in West Lancashire through the Community Infrastructure Levy. There are also commitments from the County Council to assist with financing a new cycleway.
The Council emphasised the need for a Tawd Valley Friends Group to be set up to provide input into the planning as well as delivery phases, and to support the long term sustainability of the project. It is hoped that the Friends Group would be represented on the Working Group which includes the Borough Council, the River Douglas Catchment Partnership, the Environment Agency, Groundwork CLM, West Lancashire CVS, SHARES and the County Council.
A general discussion followed the presentations with members of the public expressing their interest in and enthusiasm for in the project and making a number of key points that the Working Group would need to address. These included the need for the project to be sustainable in the long term, and the importance of protecting the current wildlife from the risk of disturbance from growing visitor numbers.
Councillor Yvonne Gagen, portfolio holder for Leisure, said: "The Council and its partners are really grateful to everyone who came to the meeting and contributed to the consultation. This is a really exciting project and people can still get involved, for example by joining the friends group."
West Lancashire CVS will host a meeting at the Ecumenical Centre, Skelmersdale, on Thursday 22 February at 7pm for those who have expressed an interest in joining the Friends Group, with a view to setting the group up. If you haven’t already signed up, and would like to get involved, please feel free to come along. For further details about this meeting please contact Martin on 01695 733737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.