A country park for Banbury’s north east has been given the green light.
The 30-hectare park will see several pieces of land, acquired by Cherwell District Council, joined up with £240,000 in funding set aside for the first phase.
The park, which was approved by CDC’s executive last Tuesday, will be a mix of habitats including woodlands, meadows, rivers and lakes and will open in spring next year.
It is expected to provide a haven for wildlife and maintain biodiversity. Unattractive buildings and the M40, which will pass through the middle of the park, will be screened
Activities available to park users will include walking and cycling, bird watching and children’s play areas.
Debbie Pickford, Cherwell’s councillor for clean and green, said: “The country park is a very welcome development for Banbury. It’s vital that, as much-needed new homes go up in Banbury, we focus on green spaces, to protect wildlife and boost people’s quality of life.
“Careful attention has been given to the current species residing in the area to ensure that wildlife is not only taken into consideration, but has the opportunity to thrive in this new green habitat.
“The site will be easily accessible for residents and visitors to the area from a number of locations.
“Southam Road, the canal towpath, and Gateway Retail Park will all have new access routes developed.”
Several conservation organisations, including the Environment Agency, Canal and Rivers Trust, Woodland Trust, and RSPB, have been involved in the planning.
The park will feature purpose-built cycle and pedestrian paths woven through woodland, meadow areas and wetland, and a small lake.
There will also be a grass embankment, with views across Cherwell Valley, and an arboretum next to the railway line with a mix of trees and a tree trail.
The site runs alongside and beyond the Gateway Retail Park and to the north of the Wildmere estate.
Additional, external funding is being sought for phases two and three which will be implemented over the next 10 years.
The country park idea was originally discussed in 2012 by CDC and the Environment Agency.