£100,000 scheme to open up Otley nature park for the disabled

Wildlife pond at Gallows Hill off Pool Road, Otley

Wildlife pond at Gallows Hill off Pool Road, Otley

First published in News Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Details of a £100,000 scheme that would open up an Otley nature park to wheelchair users have been unveiled.

And Councillor Kevin Cooney (Lab, West Chevin) believes the work, at Gallows Hill, will also attract new animal and plant species to the site, along with more visitors.

The Town Council agreed at its budget meeting last week to give the charity Groundwork Leeds the go-ahead to apply for grants to fund a project whose key goal will be making the park, off Pool Road, accessible to all.

It has now been confirmed that the scheme will include: l Bringing the paths leading to, and around, the park back up to a fully accessible standard for wheelchair users and anyone who needs a level walking surface l Creating six more wildlife ponds, of varying depth, suitable for a wider range of species – the existing pond already attracts toads, frogs, newts, damselflies and dragonflies l Installing new information boards and seating, and improving drainage at the car park l Planting more native British trees, including hornbeam, English Oak, Scots Pine, Field Maple and birch, across the site.

The other major part of the plan would involve working on a section of the circular path from Wharfemeadows Park to Gallows Hill to make it suitable for wheelchair users.

Coun Cooney said: “As this is the only level nature area of any size in Otley it is really important that wheelchair users, both local and visitors, have access to it.

“The existing route from Wharfemeadows Park, which entails crossing the White Bridge and turning east along the riverbank path, has issues of low head room and drainage on the area that goes under the sewage pipe close to the bridge, which needs improvement – and is part of the plan.

“Groundwork Leeds – who work with community groups, public bodies and businesses on a wide range of environmental projects – will seek quotes from five or six suitable contractors, and if the funding is secured they will manage the project works for the town council, including preparation of the necessary planning application.

“They have an excellent reputation in this field and we are hopeful they will succeed in bringing this project about.”

The town council has been trying to press on with major works at Gallows Hill, which is a former sewage settlement beds site that was bought by the council in the 1980s, for several years but has struggled to attract the required funding.

It has set £6,000 aside in its budget for the coming year to pay for some essential maintenance work at the nature park.

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