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Nature reserve improvements help Lancashire residents during pandemic restrictions

The gateway to Lancashire’s largest local nature reserve, Peel Park in Accrington, has had a £45,000 makeover to make it more accessible and boost biodiversity.

Funded by the Lancashire Environmental Fund, Newground Together, Hyndburn Borough Council and Tiree Community Windfall Fund, the project has been spearheaded by Friends of Arden Hall and the Coppice.

The improvements, designed and contracted by Newground’s landscape design team, include the installation of a low gradient ramped path and steps with handrail to make it more accessible for those with mobility issues, wheelchair users and families with prams.

A wildflower understory will be completed in the Spring with the help of the Hyndburn Butterfly Project.

The need for increased access and improved safety to the northern entrance of Peel Park was identified following consultation with visitors, local residents, schools and councillors, as well as with archaeologists, ecologists and forestry experts.

Volunteers celebrated the completion of the makeover by planting trees during National Tree Week to create a hazel coppice.

Joyce Plummer, Secretary of Friends of Arden Hall, said: “The improvements couldn’t have come at a better time. Peel Park has been a sanctuary for local residents cooped up during the pandemic. Going for a walk has been one of the few luxuries we’ve been able to indulge in during lockdown and I think it has made people really appreciate this natural resource on their doorstep.”

Newground is a Community Interest Company owned by Newground Together, whose services include environmental compliance, flood resilience, landscape architecture and grounds maintenance.

As the charitable arm of Together Housing Group, Newground Together invests Newground’s commercial profits into projects that improve the communities in which they operate and the lives of those people living there.

Mick Smith, Managing Director of Newground, said: “We are committed to the conservation, protection and improvement of the environment, which we know also has knock-on health and wellbeing benefits. We’re delighted to have played our part in enriching the habitats for wildlife at Peel Park and enabling more visitors to access the reserve.”

Cllr Miles Parkinson OBE, Leader of Hyndburn Borough Council added: “Peel Park is one of the treasures in Hyndburn and we are pleased to be supporting such an important project. Alongside making the park more accessible for so many people, the improvements will help our local wildlife thrive and encourage biodiversity. Thank you to all the experts involved and also to those who took part in the consultation process.”

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