‘Fantastic’ effort as Lancaster park plans take shape

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A community cafe, Multi Use Games Area, running and BMX tracks and better car parking facilities all form part of long term plans for a popular Lancaster park.

The development of Ryelands Park in Owen Road has been in the offing for a number of years, and a draft plan for the park has now taken shape, aiming to breathe life into the area, with an emphasis on healthy living and wellbeing.

Ryelands Park

Ryelands Park

It’s not been plain sailing however at Ryelands Park, with acts of vandalism and fly-tipping hampering progress and undermining the hard work and effort put in by community volunteers.

Despite this, work has continued and already a new £80,000 play area has been developed, benches have been installed, and undergrowth has been cleared to make way for wildflower areas.

Lancaster City Council and the Friends of Ryelands Park, Lancaster University and Lancashire County Council have all been instrumental in developing ideas and raising funds for new installations.

The masterplan for the park was developed and adopted in 2012 after numerous community events.

The recently opened play area in Ryelands Park.

The recently opened play area in Ryelands Park.

An Active Parks trail, including an “interactive glockenspiel” forms part of the plans, as well as 1km and 2km walking and running tracks, a new orchard, community meeting and growing space, and a banked area for outdoor performances.

Plans for a permanent community cafe are also on the table, with the possibility of bringing in mobile food and concession stands over the summer months to see if a permanent cafe could be sustained.

Coun David Smith, Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for environmental services, said: “So many fantastic things have happened since 2012 when the masterplan for the park was developed and when the council and the Friends of Ryelands Park group set out on their mission to transform the park into a place which is more inviting and offers something special for everyone.

“The project continues to give the local community a great opportunity to join others in taking pride in their local park and my thanks go to all the individuals, groups and funders who have had a part to play in what has been achieved in Ryelands Park so far.

“Unfortunately there continue to be others whose idea of a great day out in the park, means quite the opposite and who enjoy ruining things for everyone else with mindless acts of vandalism and fly tipping such as the latest incident of scattering the contents of a used nappy bin all over the new play area”. (see page seven). The council is also seeking opinions on the future use of the park’s bandstand, which is currently fenced off.

Options include demolishing it or raising funds to preserve it.

The park’s old pavilion was demolished in December.

The building was last open in 2006 and suffered damage from flooding in 2008/09, which caused most of the ceilings to collapse. The building footprint will be excavated and landscaped.

The council recently employed two new “outdoor rangers” who will visit the park twice a week to carry out inspections and manage the football pitches until the season ends in March.

The Friends of Ryelands Park are looking for volunteers to help with fundraising, Facebook, publicity, accounts and designing posters among other things.

Meetings are held in the evening of every second Tuesday of the month at Father’s House in Owen Road.

Working days are held on the first Sunday of every month, meeting at 1.30pm at The Old Man’s Rest between Ryelands House and the MUGA.

Coun Smith said people can report flytipping by calling the council on 01524 582491 or emailing information to customerservices@lancaster.gov.uk, with all inforion given held in the strictest confidence.