Park revamp plans don’t hold water

A MINING firm has been forced to scrap plans to create a new park centred around an artificial lake on a former opencast site.

Banks Mining is now rethinking its plans for completing the development of the Pegswood Community Park and is asking villagers what they think of its alternative suggestions.

The County Durham-based firm has now finished the majority of the restoration and landscaping work it had lined up for the site of the Pegswood surface mine it operated between 1997 and 2005.

It has been unable to complete the second phase of the park as originally planned, however.

This second area was intended to be centred around a large lake, but despite repeated attempts, the lake has not filled up to the required level, having constantly lost large amounts of water through leakage.

That leakage has left the landscape around the lake in an unsatisfactory condition and has also prevented the completion of a planned footpath leading from the park into Howburn Wood.

It has also delayed the official opening of the second phase of the park to the public.

Banks Mining is now weighing up several alternative plans for the completion of restoration work.

Following consultation with Northumberland County Council and a Pegswood Community Park advisory panel, the company’s preferred option is to fill the lake in with rubble, soil or rock.

It would then create a new landscape possibly including a smaller lake, as well as new woodland.

An explanatory leaflet and questionnaire outlining the different options is now both being circulated among nearby communities and is available for completion on the Banks Group’s website.

The plans will also be displayed in a series of exhibitions at villages nearby over the next few weeks.

A decision on which plan to proceed with is expected to be reached by the end of the year, with work due to begin on site in spring 2012.

The firm’s environment and community director, Mark Dowdall, said: “Despite a great deal of effort to find a workable solution to the difficulties with the lake, we have been unable to complete the site restoration as planned.

“That is a great disappointment to us and leaves the park in a situation which does not match our normal high standards in providing new amenities and landscapes when restoring our sites.

“We’re beginning this wider public consultation process to understand what local people would like to see happen at the site and to agree the best way to move things forward.

“It is now a priority for us to complete phase two of the park.”