Families on the Mount Oswald estate in Durham City have been putting their ideas down on paper for what they’d like to see happening on the estate’s central park.

Working with the Mount Oswald Residents’ Association, the Banks Group organised a workshop for residents to have their say on how the park, which sits behind the Mount Oswald Manor House, ought to look and what facilities it should feature.

The 25 adults and children who attended the event at Durham University’s South College were each given a blank piece of paper and asked to draw what they’d like to see in and around the 1.75-hectare area.

Suggestions ranged from play areas, bug hotels and community allotments through to seating, stepping stones and woodland trails, while some of the younger children put forward more imaginative ideas, including a rocket-propelled roundabout, an underground cavern and a ladder that goes all the way into the clouds.

Banks’ Mount Oswald project team will now factor all the families’ suggestions into the final design that it expects to put forward for consideration by Durham City Council in the coming months.

If planning approval is granted this year, Banks is hoping to start work on the park early in 2025, with a view to it coming into use by next summer.

The Mount Oswald Manor House is now home to The Story, the newly-opened visitor attraction which celebrates the past, present and future of County Durham.

Kate Culverhouse, community relations manager at the Banks Group, says: “As the people who will get to enjoy the central park more than anyone, we wanted to give families who live there the chance to put their stamp on what it will become and we’re really grateful for the time and great ideas that they gave us.

“It was especially good to see the children letting their imaginations run wild and they put forward some brilliant ideas, although we can’t promise to make some of their more creative suggestions a reality!

“The estate already has two small play areas for younger children, but adding more play equipment into the central park is a definite option, while maximising the benefits that the green open space and natural environment can provide to residents and visitors is very much a priority for us.

“The Mount Oswald estate has matured into the high-quality community that we’d always envisaged, and if planning approval for our park design is granted, we’re hoping to be able to bring it fully into use by next summer.”

Fiona Adamson, chair of the Mount Oswald Residents’ Association, adds: “The event was a really enjoyable get-together for families on our estates, and who knew we had so many talented artists amongst us!

“Even some of us adults were inspired to put pen to paper, alongside having the opportunity to discuss next steps for the site in general.

“Thanks to the Banks team for hosting in such a fun way, and to our friends in South College for the use of their JCR. We can’t wait to see the park plans!”