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£3 million plan to turn Berry Hill Park into a ‘destination park’

Mansfield District Council has appointed a consultant as it looks to progress with an almost £3 million plan to transform the town’s cherished Berry Hill Park into a ‘destination’.

The plans come as part of the authority’s Towns Fund investment, money from Government totalling millions of pounds and designed to breathe new life into the area.

The council was successful in receiving half of the £25 million it had initially bid for, with £2.94 million to be spent on the Berry Hill Park proposals.

The funds will help to create what the authority describes as the district’s first “destination park”, with the council planning to improve facilities and create “new attractions not found elsewhere in Mansfield”.

A ‘destination park’ is described as an “exciting and fun place” for the whole family, with various activities on offer for people of all ages.

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The authority launched a survey in the autumn to ask residents their views on a wide range of options available for the park.

Ideas floated in the autumn include a climbing wall, model boating, high ropes, crazy golf, bike hire and cycling trails, a sensory garden, an art trail, a multi-use games area, and a new play area for people with physical disabilities.

It is also hoped the park could host more entertainment and events in the future, with the existing bandstand to potentially be used for live music, outdoor theatre and cinema, family fun days, sports sessions and funfairs.

Now the authority has appointed a consultant as it looks to press forward with its official business case.

A non-key decision was taken by the council on January 28 to appoint consultants Arkwood Limited, trading as Jon Sheaff and Associates, to prepare the masterplan and business case for the ‘destination park’.

The business case and its approval, the council states, is an “absolute requirement for the Towns Fund process”.

A report published ahead of the meeting confirms the contract is worth £49,716 and has been awarded following a procurement process.

The funds will be met through the Towns Fund capacity funding and through reserves allocated specifically for the wide-ranging investment last September.

Commenting last autumn, Councillor Andy Burgin (Lab), portfolio holder for environment and leisure, explained more about the authority’s plans for Berry Hill Park.

He said: “This is the biggest one-off investment any of our parks has seen.

“We want to ensure we provide high-quality facilities that will not only help improve the health and well-being of users but attract people from across the district and further afield to visit time and time again in the years to come.”

The council is also planning improvements to the park’s café, seating, toilets and parking.

It comes after the council took over control of the park’s upkeep after previous operator CISWO confirmed it could no longer afford the large site’s upkeep.

Concerns were raised in 2018 that the park could close for good after CISWO gave up control of the park, with a petition and a protest calling on the council to step in and take over.

The authority now has control over the site and oversees its upkeep, with the new powers allowing it to become part of the wide-ranging Towns Fund bid.

Other plans included within the £12.3 million Towns Fund investment include new ‘micro-technology units’ and business space near Mansfield Woodhouse Railway Station and the launch of new ‘Destination Mansfield’ branding.

There is also a separate ‘Smart Mansfield’ scheme for new town centre technology, investment into a technology and skills hub at West Notts College, and a new health hub in Warsop.

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