After months of hard work from local collaborative partners, today saw the official opening of the new Pleck Meadow footpath and nature reserve. This exciting environmental renewal project was conducted in collaboration with Hyndburn Borough Council and local charities, The Prospects Foundation and Ribble Rivers Trust, as well as supported by many others along the way.
Pleck Meadow, a large section of grassland located near Arden Hall on Peel Park and the Coppice Local Nature Reserve, was acquired by Hyndburn Borough Council in 2018. The Council developed a masterplan to enhance the area for both the local public and wildlife with the creation of the new pathway, all in partnership with The Prospects Foundation and Ribble Rivers Trust, who co-ordinated the grant funding for the project and led the way on the wetland creation.
A celebration event was held today to mark the official opening of the footpath and nature reserve, bringing together Hyndburn Council, the local charities who spearheaded the project, and local schools to explore the fully realised space. The day began with an opportunity to hear more details about the project with an introductory talk from Hyndburn Council’s Senior Enviornmental Initiatives Officer, Anne Hourican, and Deputy CEO and Head of People & Learning for The Prospects Foundation, Harvey Hamilton-Thorpe. This talk updated attendees about the process of bringing the project together, including the process of public consultation to hear what locals themselves felt would be the best approach to the area back in June 2022.
This was followed with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and the chance for The Mayor of Hyndburn, Cllr Abdul Khan, elected members, and the schools to take part in an inaugural walk along the new pathway. Representatives from The Prospects Foundation and Ribble Rivers Trust were also present on the day, marking the end of the current grant programme, evaluating public opinion, and offering expert insight into the practicalities of bringing a project like this to life.
Cllr Abdul Khan, Mayor of Hyndburn, said:
“It was a real joy to see everyone come together today for such a worthy cause after so much hard work from all the teams involved. New habitat areas are so important for allowing more space for the natural world. I take great pleasure in the opportunity to get outdoors and see parts of the local area that would have otherwise remained unfamiliar to me, and I am sure this sense of pride was shared by all who attended. I am certain that the opening of this space will be a great way to encourage locals to enjoy the natural spaces that are already on their doorstep.”
The new footpath has been seamlessly incorporated into the existing footpath network to connect the Arden Hall and Hodder Street directions to link with Peel Park via the new land. This pathway also includes a bridge over the Pleck brook, allowing visitors to safely access more parts of their local landscape than they have been able to in the past. The work was part of the Health & Environmental Action Lancashire (HEAL) Project funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund, which was developed by Defra and its Arm’s-Length Bodies, is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.
Prospects Representative, said:
“The project has been a labour of love from all the PROSPECTS staff, as well as from the numerous volunteers that have given their time. The result will be a more biodiverse and accessible green space that people and wildlife such as bees, butterflies, and amphibians can enjoy.”
This project has been in service of connecting people with nature to improve health and wellbeing across Lancashire, whilst also offering conservation and restoration opportunities for the landscape. The addition of such a footpath has served to increase accessibility within the area by allowing visitors to access Pleck Meadow, whilst also increasing connection to Peel Park and the Coppice Local Nature Reserve.