17th August 2021
The Avenue Country Park and Washlands Nature Reserve will continue its stunning transformation from one of Europe’s most polluted sites to thriving Country Park after the Land Trust was awarded over £57,000 from Severn Trent’s Community Fund.
The funding will see the Land Trust’s managing partner, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, employ a new Community Engagement Officer with responsibility for putting on events and attracting new people to this picturesque green space.
The Avenue County Park and Washlands Nature Reserve has a wide variety of wildlife which calls it home and the project will see the installation of four wildlife viewing screens which will overlook the wetland habitats and a number of new interpretation panels to provide more information to visitors about what they should be on the lookout for during their time at the park.
There will also be a new nature activities area which will be able to host events such as Forest Schools, while further seating areas will be available for people who want to sit down and take in the sights and sounds of nature around them.
Four new waymarked trails will also be installed to help navigate visitors around the whole of the Avenue space.
The Land Trust has owned and managed The Avenue Washlands Nature Reserve since 2007 and the Country Park since 2019 in partnership with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. The site was previously a Coking Works between 1956 and 1992 and was originally a colliery, open cast and underground mine, as well as iron ore and lime workings. At its peak Avenue employed 800 people and produced 1,400 tonnes of smokeless fuel a day and left behind one of Europe’s most contaminated sites. Following its closure a huge remediation project was undertaken at a cost of £174 million to turn the site into the award winning parkland it is today.
The coking works was the focal point for the community for three and a half decades and as the Land Trust Estates manager Charles Langtree explains, the funding from Severn Trent will help the Trust realise its ambition of turning the site into the beating heart of the community once more.
“We are delighted to receive this funding from Severn Trent’s Community Fund which will greatly help us to continue to develop this fantastic Country Park.
“When we took ownership of the Avenue we had a number of exciting community events planned, including an official opening, which had to be cancelled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Despite the cancellation of these events the park has been hugely popular over the last 18 months as the local community has sought out green space to benefit their mental and physical health throughout this very challenging time.
“The funding from Severn Trent will allow us to greatly improve what is already an excellent visitor experience and enhance the facilities which will enable us to deliver things like Forest Schools activities and inspire a love of the environment and nature in the next generation. It’s a fantastic place for all the family to visit and this project is a first step in seeing it get better and better.”
Sue Heyes, Community Fund Officer for Severn Trent said:
“This project is such a great fit with the aims of our Community Fund, enhancing access to outdoor spaces for all to enjoy whilst also encouraging an interest in the local environment. Our wellbeing is much improved by access to nature and this project will enable that to happen in a safe and creative way.”
Kate Lemon at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said:
“We’re always aiming to help as many people as possible experience nature – it’s great for physical and mental wellbeing. This funding from Severn Trent allows us to reach out to so many people in the Chesterfield area so we can help them grow in confidence to love and explore this beautiful reserve right on their doorstep. Funding like this is invaluable and the experiences we’ll be able to give because of it will last a lifetime.”
You can find out more about The Avenue Country Park here.
It is great to see people using the sites I manage, even if they often don't realise the work involved in keeping them safe and welcoming.
Charles Langtree, Estates Manager
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