Park cash windfall is playing for keeps

The childrens' play area in Ryelands Park
The childrens' play area in Ryelands Park

Support from local parents through an online vote has helped to secure £85,000 to install new play equipment at a Lancaster park.

Ryelands Park will benefit from the investment after the scheme there polled enough votes as part of soft drinks giant Britvic’s Transform Your Patch campaign.

It was one of just 12 projects across the country to secure a cash windfall – £25,000 – through Transform Your Patch, which aims to give communities better access to outdoor sports and activities.

Pupils and parents from the nearby Loyne Specialist School were consulted to help determine the design of the new play facilities.

They will include a specially designed double-width slide built into a giant mound to help carers assist children with disabilities.

There will also be a ramp for wheelchair access.

More challenging play equipment like ropes, nets, and climbing features will also be built into the mound for able-bodied children.

Other funding support has been secured through the United Futures scheme– a tie-up between water company United Utilities and the environmental charity Groundwork, which funds projects in areas disrupted by improvements to the water and sewer network.

United Utilities will embark on more than two years of work to upgrade local sewers in February.

United Futures is providing £30,000 of funding, which will be supplemented by another £30,000 from the Lancashire Environmental Fund.

Groundwork Executive Director, Andy Darron, said: “Ryelands is a large public park close to the centre of Lancaster and is really valued by residents, but the play

facilities are in real need of upgrading and local people have asked for a wider variety of activities.

“We want to help residents make part of Ryelands Park into a flagship accessible play area – one that can be used by all children, no matter what their ability.

“Nearby Loyne Specialist School are keen that their children, who have a range of disabilities, are able to play with other children at the park.”

Coun David Smith, Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member for environmental services, said: “We have been working with partners and local people to improve the facilities at Ryelands Park.

“Thanks to the funding from United Utilities, the Lancashire Environment fund and the Transform your Patch grant we are now able to progress our plans to upgrade the play area facilities.”

Plans for the work will be developed in the next few weeks when Groundwork and the city council liaise with residents and the Friends of Ryelands Park group on the proposals.

The council hopes that work will begin next April, in time for the new equipment to open in the early summer.

The new play area forms just part of a master plan for the park which is being developed by the city and county council, the North Lancashire Primary Care Trust. Consultation took place last month into proposals including a multi-use games area, a BMX track, community flower beds and new pathways.