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Future plans unveiled for country parks

Plans to widen and increase enjoyment of Staffordshire’s country parks, while protecting plants and wildlife, are on the table.

Staffordshire County Council is using the post-pandemic increase in their popularity to promote healthy living, encourage the green agenda and support individuals and small businesses.

Steps include improving facilities such as cafes and visitor centres; carrying out nature recovery work and creating woodlands to support carbon reduction; offering placements and volunteer opportunities; and encouraging people who wouldn’t usually visit – or find it difficult to do so.

Victoria Wilson, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities and Culture, said: “The popularity of country parks has grown during and since the pandemic as people discovered, or rediscovered, their beauty.

“Our aim is to manage that increased interest and offer new opportunities, while balancing protection of rare flora and fauna.

“I think our plans for the future reflect the important role our parks and green spaces can play for Staffordshire’s communities, businesses and environment.”

Considerations include:

  • improving visitor facilities at Chasewater;

  • allowing more commercial events and activities that don’t compromise conservation;

  • planting more trees and restoring peatland to increase carbon capture;

  • introducing electric vehicles and equipment to the estate and using renewable energy wherever possible;

  • promoting physical health and mental wellbeing with community walking programmes for those who don’t usually visit country parks;

  • offer traineeships and develop links with colleges;

  • make the visitor centre at Cannock Chase appropriate for an Area of Outstanding National Beauty with internationally important flora and fauna.

Victoria Wilson said: “Use of our country parks will simply keep increasing, as their popularity increases and more homes are built and we must invest in maintenance, heritage management and conservation and provide appropriate facilities.

“Parks can play a huge part in people’s health and wellbeing so we have to work out how to make these spaces attractive and accessible to a wide range of people without damaging what makes them special.”

Although the council reinvests proceeds in keeping sites safe and accessible, it has already delayed the introduction of car parking charges at some country parks to help residents with the cost of living crisis.

Charging had been scheduled for introduction at Apedale, Deep Hayes, Greenway Bank, by the greenway at Rudyard and Froghall, but installation of the payment units is being delayed until late spring 2023 and then payments will be on a voluntary basis for the first few months.

And existing charges at other country parks also run by Staffordshire County Council are being frozen for another 12 months.


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