Plans for a much-needed new play park in a west Cumbrian village could be moving closer to fruition after a renewable energy firm agreed to fund a feasibility study into the scheme’s development.
The £5,000 being provided by Banks Renewables will enable the most appropriate design for the proposed park in Frizington to be developed, and will also help identify the land management issues that will have to be addressed in order to make it suitable for use.
The site, which is located close to Coronation Drive in Newtown, has long been seen as a possible location for this sort of community facility, and Banks is working with the landowners Home Group, one of the UK’s largest providers of social housing, to establish how the project might best be moved forward.
And Banks are highlighting the potential availability of further funding for the project from the community benefits fund that would be linked to the proposed Weddicar Rigg wind farm, subject to its planning application being approved by Copeland Borough Council.
If the wind farm is approved, it would lead to the creation of a £750,000 benefits fund that would enable Banks to deliver a range of community and environmental improvements in partnership with local people and, to which an application could be made for funding for the playpark.
Paul Rowe, youth development officer at the Phoenix Youth Project, who is part of the group that is working towards securing the new play facility for the community, says: “Getting this new facility is becoming an ever more pressing need for young people in the area, so securing funding for this study is great news.
“The old play area has fallen into a poor state of repair, and aside from the youth club that we run three nights a week, there are very few places for the young people in our community to go and very little for them to do.
“Creating a new hub that could be used by children of all ages and their families would have a massive positive impact on our community, and we know that it would be extremely well used, so we hope that this study will show how our hopes might be realised in the future.
“The Phoenix Youth Project works with around 150 children and young people in Frizington between the ages of eight and 19, and it’s their enthusiasm and desire to see this new facility built is really what’s driving this project on – they’ve been very closely involved in developing ideas and we’ll continue to help them have their say as this study is carried out.”
Tanya Pears, Home Group customer service manager, said: “We’re looking forward to working with Banks to assess whether a play park could be developed on land near to Coronation Drive.
“A play park is something which people in the community have said they are keen to see. There are issues such as drainage which need to be addressed but if they can be overcome we would be keen to provide a facility which would benefit young people in the community.”
In addition to the benefits fund, Banks Renewables has also already pledged an investment of £50,000 to set up a Warm Zone scheme across the whole of the Whitehaven area if the Weddicar Rigg wind farm proposals are approved, which would deliver practical measures such as cavity wall insulation and loft insulation into local homes in order to help to alleviate fuel poverty and improve domestic energy efficiency.
The six-turbine scheme would produce enough energy to meet the annual electricity consumption needs of around 9,500 homes, and would prevent the release of 19,221 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year that would otherwise occur through the production of the same amount of energy by non-renewable means.
Up to 50 jobs would be created through the construction of the wind farm, with a further dozen people employed through the Warm Zone scheme, and local businesses would be able to tender for contracts relating to the construction of the wind farm worth around £3.5million.
Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, says: “Our work in the local community enabled us to identify this project as a real priority for local people, and are pleased to be supporting the work that we hope will show how it might be taken forward in the future.
“Involving the young people who would primarily benefit from the new park is crucial in making sure it is designed and developed in a way which meets the needs and aspirations that they’ve expressed.
“There are a number of issues around the drainage and conditions on the proposed site that need to be reviewed very carefully in order to see whether it is suitable for this sort of development, and the work that we’ve now commissioned will help highlight what would need to be done to make the site suitable for use.
“Sharing the benefits of the schemes that we operate with the communities in which they are situated in this way is part of Banks’ long-term policy for ensuring that local people gain tangible, long-term advantages from our presence, and the Frizington play park is exactly the sort of grassroots project that would be considered for funding from the Weddicar Rigg benefits fund if we get the go ahead for the wind farm.”
A decision on Banks’ planning application is expected from Copeland Borough Council’s planning committee later in the summer. Anyone who would like more information on the Weddicar Rigg proposals can contact the Banks project team on 0191 378 6100 or email Weddicarrigg@banksgroup.co.uk