Thursday, September 28, 2006

'Seeds of Change' - New Nature Park to be Unveiled

[SMBC press release 27 September 06]
From the rubble of a derelict bleach works and railway sidings in Stockport, a new nature park has grown.
Mersey Vale Nature Park, only one mile from Stockport town centre, is a brand new 23.5 hectare park where walking, cycling, horse-riding and canoeing are just some of the ways to explore this beautiful countryside. Stockport Council and the Mersey Basin Campaign, with help and support from the local community, have turned this once derelict land into a nature-rich habitat.
Thousands of tonnes of soil were used to create the park's open spaces. Wild flowers have been sown, new trees planted and the ponds landscaped. Now, visitors can benefit from 6km of paths, two canoe access points to the River Mersey, links to the Trans Pennine Trail, sculptured seating areas, and enough space to fit 30 football pitches!
The Mayor of Stockport, Councillor Peter Burns, will be unveiling a 4m high sculpture to mark the official opening of the Park. The sculpture, called "Seeds of Change" was created by artist, Michael Johnson, with help from Year 5 pupils at Mersey Vale Primary School. It is inspired by the grasses and seed heads collected from the park by pupils. Made from bronze and stainless steel, the sculpture incorporates the children's artwork in its circular base.
Councillor Pam King, Executive Member for Leisure, said: "This unveiling is the culmination of six years' hard work and dedication. Over £800,000 has been invested in Heaton Mersey - part of our riverside regeneration projects - and when you look at Mersey Vale Nature Park now, it's hard to remember what a derelict space this once was.
"It's not everyday a new park is born! Indeed, it's very rare to see such natural surroundings so close to a town centre. But by working closely with the Mersey Basin Campaign and local residents, we've been able to create a natural green space that over time, will grow to be a treasured asset for the borough."
Sarah Wallbank, European Projects Manager at the Mersey Basin Campaign, said: "Three years ago, many local people did not even know that the site existed. We asked almost 500 local people what they wanted to see beside the river and what they told us shaped the nature park as it is today. They wanted to be able to walk, run, ride bikes and horses, and walk their dogs there. And they wanted simple things like good maintenance and lots of wildlife."
She continued: "People seem to love riverside locations like the nature park, and now that the Mersey is so much cleaner than even ten years ago we have a real asset that the town should make more of."

[Click on the above image for the full story.]