The Wirral Way will mark the 50th anniversary of its official opening this year. The park was created on 2 October 1973 and was Britain’s first designated country park.
As part of the 50th anniversary Cheshire West and Chester Council is working with Wirral Council to help celebrate this 12-mile, linear park.
Later this year, small events will take place along the route, including events at Hadlow Road Station, Parks Field, Lees Lane Ponds. The Council’s Greenspace Officers and Health Rangers will deliver events such as Volunteer Days, Wellbeing Walks, Mindfulness activities and Forest School sessions. To celebrate this milestone, the Council plans to transform the entrance near to Hooton Station as part of a major widening and enhancement scheme.
The scheme is a result of funding made available through Section 106 secured as part of the planning permission granted to Stewart Milne for the redevelopment of the former Roften Works, and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) generated by the Stewart Milne housing Roften Road development.
The Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Councillor Karen Shore said: “The entrance to the Wirral Way is under review with hopes for a new access point being discussed which would allow much improved accessibility. It’s intended to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wirral Way and the history of the space by revealing these designs.
“The existing surfaced path network which links Cheshire and Wirral will be widened and improved wherever feasible, to enhance user experience for people sharing the space.
“At the moment, works are being planned and designed, with actual proposed start dates and programme of works still to be decided, whilst ecological considerations have been reviewed via site surveys and assessments. More information will be shared as soon as detailed designs are progressed.”
For nearly 100 years, from the height of the Victorian era onwards, a busy railway linked Hooton, on the main Chester-to-Birkenhead line, to West Kirby. In 1962 the line was closed, and the track lay derelict. Captain Lawrence Beswick DSM campaigned for the site to be reused as a country park.
In 1968 a draft scheme for the construction of Wirral Country Park was prepared by Cheshire County Council, stating ‘The scheme would provide a country park of great worth’. Work began on the park in 1968 after investment from the Countryside Commission and Wirral Country Park was officially opened in October 1973 by Lord Leverhulme.
Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency, Councillor Matt Bryan added: “Wirral Country Park’s 50th anniversary will give everyone an opportunity to celebrate one of our wonderful green spaces. This year Cheshire West and Chester and Wirral Council will jointly submit an application to obtain Heritage Green Flag status for the park, a first for the borough.
“Parts of the park are locally designated Wildlife Sites and nationally protected Sites of Special Scientific Interest and there will be opportunity for people to learn about the park’s biodiversity at events about bats, bees and birds in both borough’s during the celebrations.”
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