Country Parks improvement plans
07 Feb 2018
Ambitious plans to improve three of Northumberland’s favourite country parks are set to be considered by the County Council.
Druridge Bay, Plessey Woods and Bolam Lake Country Parks attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from both the county and further afield and are havens for a variety of wildlife.
All these parks offer visitor centres with information displays, cafes and small gift shops, promoted paths and trails, and public and volunteers events.
However, the quality of some of the facilities at the parks has declined over recent years with buildings and play facilities in particular suffering from underinvestment.
The council is now proposing to invest almost £1m to significantly improve the three parks with a range of new facilities, these include:
Druridge Bay Country Park
Replacing the old play equipment with a high quality installation, extending and improving the cafe and outdoor seating area, and introducing a new facility that would be in-keeping with the setting of country park to meet the rising demand for camping and touring caravan facilities along this section of the Northumberland coast.
Plessey Woods Country Park
Improving and extending the children’s play area as well as general improvements to some sections of paths and visitor information at the visitor centre.
Bolam Lake Country Park
Refurbishing the existing toilet block to provide a more fit for purpose facility, as well as considering some provision for adventure play and wildlife viewing facilities that fit in with the natural setting of the park.
In order to pay for this significant investment to improve the services offered to visitors and to help maintain all of the country parks going forward, it is proposed that parking charges will be reintroduced at the three sites. Visitors at all three sites will get the first hour free of charge, with all day car parking proposed at £3, or just £1.60 for up to two hours. Season permits valid in all three of the country parks will also be available at £35.
Council Leader Peter Jackson said: “The fact that these country parks are valued by residents and visitors is evidenced by the great increase in the numbers of visitors over the last few years. The existing facilities have been suffering from neglect for a number of years and we want to turn that around.
“These country parks all have their own unique character and are fantastic places to visit but it’s important they offer the very best experience to visitors.
“We’re proposing a major investment of almost £1m to carry out a range of work at the three sites to significantly enhance their appeal as great places to visit - so they become jewels in Northumberland’s crown.
“While the major improvements will take place at these three parks, a number of visitor access improvements will also be carried out at other country parks across the county, including upgrading paths and car parks.
“Our plans are all about our pride in our county and bringing our facilities up to a standard that will attract visitors and be fit for the future.”
Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services Cllr Glen Sanderson said: “The country parks are great places for people to come and enjoy our beautiful countryside, watch wildlife, take exercise and generally just have a good day out.
“We want to make the experience even better and will be talking to user groups to refine the details of the proposals so that we get the best possible outcomes from this significant investment.”
The plans will be considered by Cabinet later this month.