THE first part of a brand new £110,000 play area at Shipley Country Park – to be funded in part by UK Coal – has been officially opened.
The first phase, boasting a natural adventure playground, a big slide, a 50m cable ride and climbing equipment, was paid for using £40,000 from Derbyshire County Council, which owns the park, and £30,000 from a national pot of cash for playparks.
But the second phase, to be completed in the summer, is to be funded by the Doncaster-based coal giant after it pledged to inject cash into the community when its mine at Smalley was allowed an extension in October last year.
Cllr Simon Spencer, the council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said the new play area has been built to attract visitors to the area.
“The new play area is already proving extremely popular and we hope it encourages even more people to visit this beautiful country park,” he explained.
“This is part of our aim to encourage as many people as we can to get out there and enjoy the Derbyshire countryside.”
The play equipment is aimed at children aged from eight to 18 and has been designed using only wood in a bid to fit in with the natural surroundings of the park.
It can be found near the main entrance, off Slack Lane, close to the visitor centre and main car park.
The council granted UK Coal permission to extend its site at Lodge House, Smalley by 192 acres, making a total of 494 acres, and yielding an estimated 748,000 tonnes of coal on top of the 1m tonnes already extracted.
Under the terms of the agreement, it was asked to pay £75,000 for work in Shipley Country Park – where the mine is visible – and £250,000 to a community fund for local projects, to be decided on by a liaison committee of residents.
It is not known what plans Derbyshire County Council has in store for the remaining £35,000 it has left to spend on the park.