Council asks for views on 'adventure playground' plan for Williamson Park in Lancaster, with 'raised walkways', slides and nets

The Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, Lancaster
The Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, Lancaster

People are being asked to give their views on a new leisure project at a Lancaster beauty spot.

Lancaster City Council is seeking people’s opinions on proposals for a new woodland adventure playground in Williamson Park.

An image from Lancaster City Council showing the area of Williamson Park earmarked for a woodland adventure playground. The proposal could create a series of woodland structures connected by raised walkways, bridges and tunnels with play equipment such as slides, nets, tunnels and ladders.

An image from Lancaster City Council showing the area of Williamson Park earmarked for a woodland adventure playground. The proposal could create a series of woodland structures connected by raised walkways, bridges and tunnels with play equipment such as slides, nets, tunnels and ladders.

Based in the southern tip of Fenham Carr, the plan is to create a series of woodland structures connected by a variety of raised walkways, bridges and tunnels with integrated play equipment such as slides, nets, tunnels and ladders.

Designed to blend in to the environment, council chiefs say the proposals would be carefully designed and planned to ensure sensitivity to the historic site, flora and fauna.

It would offer something for all ages and abilities, including those with special needs and disabilities, with seating areas and toddler play spaces to encourage families to play together.

Lancaster City Council is working with award-winning playground design and build company, Cap.co, who have extensive environmental credentials with experience in delivering exciting and unique places and spaces across the country.

Cap.co’s previous projects have included the Lost Castle attraction at Lowther Castle, Isle Be Wild at Brodick Castle on the island of Arran, The Knights Realm at Leeds Castle and the National Trust’s Culzean Castle.

More details of the proposals and indicative designs are on display in the Ashton Memorial and online at Lancaster.gov.uk/adventure-playground. Staff from the park will be on hand to talk more about the proposals and answer questions on October 5 and 6 from 12pm to 4pm.

Further exhibitions are also in the process of being arranged across the district – details will be available from Facebook.com/williamsonpark when they have been confirmed.

This is an initial conversation to gather people’s views on the proposals before a series of detailed concept plans are drawn up following public engagement events.

Coun Dave Brookes, Cabinet member with responsibility for environmental services, said: “The Ashton Memorial and its surroundings makes Williamson Park truly unique, but the drawback is that it costs a lot of money to maintain. The city council wants to ensure a financially sustainable future for the park, and to do that it needs to invest in facilities that will build on the park’s reputation as a high quality attraction and bring in more paying visitors.

“It is really important that any development in Williamson Park respects its listed features, and is sensitive to its natural setting. Cap.co are recognised as experts in this field, and have been involved with a number of similar attractions in forests and country parks around the country.

“At this stage we only have a basic indication of what could be achieved, but we want to know what people think about the principle of the proposal before we progress further.”

The proposals envisage around a fifth of Fenham Carr being used for the adventure playground, with the remainder still being available for dog walkers, park run, nature lovers and other park user groups.

The playground would be a paid-for attraction and while details of the entrance fee have not yet been agreed, it is likely that it would also include entry to the Butterfly House and Mini Zoo.

Subject to further consultation and planning permission, the attraction would open in May 2021.

Proposals for the adventure playground are just the first step in the city council’s plans to enhance the facilities at Williamson Park, in which the views of the public will be integral.

A number of ‘visioning days’ will be organised with ward councillors for the community to get involved and share their ideas of what further improvements could entail.