Full steam ahead for park plans

Land on Dale Street, which may be turned into a green space.
Land on Dale Street, which may be turned into a green space.

Plans for a community woodland to be developed in a residential area of Lancaster could soon come to fruition.

A patch of wasteland off Dale Street could be opened up for public use after Lancashire County Council Developments agreed to grant a residents’ group a licence to use the site.

The land – which is about 1,000 square metres – must now be cleared of rubbish before nearby residents can use it as a seated area with space for children to play.

Residents have been working with the county council and White Cross Business Park for four years in a bid to take over the running of the land.

Last year several meetings were held in a bid to buy the land from the county council, who lease it to White Cross.

Possible options for the site include having a footpath leading through to Meadowside and having fencing around the land with gated access for residents only.

The next step is for a newly formed residents’ committee to have plans drawn up for the scheme and to begin fundraising for the £20-30,000 that will be needed. Consultation will also be carried out with local residents before any proposals go before the city council’s planning committee.

It is hoped work will begin on the land next spring, with it potentially being ready to open in the summer.

Future ventures could include using the land as a performance space or to display sculptures.

Dr Paul Scholefield, an ecologist at Lancaster University who lives in Dale Street, said: “The idea is to let the children in the street have some space to play in because at the moment they have none.

“It would also be an area for people to have some peace and quiet and a bit of breathing space.”

Dr Scholefield has helped set up a not-for-profit company to raise funds towards the plans and to provide a bank account where the group can deposit donations and funds. “It’s taken four years to get to this stage,” he said.

“Hopefully this will secure the site for future generations.”

Andrew Connolly, principal estates surveyor for Lancashire County Council, said: “Lancashire County Developments Ltd, the county council’s economic development department, has provisionally agreed terms with Dale Street Community Woodland Group to manage an unused area of the White Cross Estate, adjacent to Dale Street.

“Details of the proposed landscaping and improvement works are now progressing.”