New lease of life for Outdoor Centre
Published Monday 18th June 12
WORK has started on a £290,000 scheme spearheaded by Ribble Valley Borough Council to turn a little-used outdoor centre in Gisburn Forest into a visitor hub.
Stephen Park has received £195,000 from the Rural Development Programme for England and an additional £95,000 from Ribble Valley Borough Council, the Ribble Valley Strategic Partnership and the Forestry Commission.
Gisburn Forest now attracts around 50,000 visitors a year since the opening in 2009 of the award-winning Gisburn Forest Mountain Bike Trail.
Ribble Valley councillor Rosie Elms, whose Bowland, Newton and Slaidburn ward includes Stephen Park, said: "The substantial increase in visitor numbers has led to increased demand for improved facilities, such as car parking, toilets and rest areas.
"The new site will create a focal point for visitors to Gisburn Forest, providing toilets, changing rooms, a café and information centre.
"It will bring people closer to wildlife and help to promote increased participation in outdoor activity."
The project will also include environmental enhancements, including the restoration of an ancient peat bog and creation of open water pools.
Gisburn Forest is the largest area of forest in Lancashire and has become an important visitor destination for outdoor activities, including mountain biking, bird watching and walking.
The scheme is expected to be completed by the late summer.
Picture: Ribble Valley councillor Zoe Elms and the council's regeneration projects officer, Craig Matthews.