Boating plan for Rufford Abbey Country Park

Rufford Abbey, Ollerton.
Rufford Abbey, Ollerton.

Plans have been unveiled to allow “recreational boating” on Rufford Lake.

Rufford Abbey Country Park manager Parkwood Outdoors has submitted a planning application to Newark & Sherwood District Council seeking permission for a “floating pontoon for recreational boating” as part of its plans to improve the park.

It said it wants to offer up to 20 paddle and rowing boats between April and October, “to enhance the experience for families and young people” – and has revealed plans for an adventure playground next year.

Parkwood took over responsibility for the management of the Nottinghamshire County Council-owned park’s shops, cafés and range of leisure activities in February.

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A Parkwood spokesman said: “Our aim is to provide a range of activities and information at Rufford Abbey for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy.

“We recognise the historical significance of the site and are determined to ensure any activities we undertake are in keeping with its traditions and history.

“To enhance the experience for families and young people we have applied for permission to offer boating on the lake at The Mill end of the country park.

“This would be limited to 20 boats and only operate during weekends and holiday periods between Easter and October.

“Having commissioned independent environmental surveys we are satisfied this would not have a detrimental impact.

“In addition, next spring we plan to open a new, free-to-use adventure playground which will appeal to all ages and also offer disabled access. We would emphasise that its design will be sensitive to the site’s heritage.”

The retrospective application says: “The proposed change of use is proposed only on the northern part of Rufford Lake, The area would exclude access to the islands and bridge.

“Boats would be launched from the floating pontoon to the north of the lake. The boats would be stored in the water adjacent to the pontoon when not in use during the boating season, tethered together and to the pontoon.

“Out of season the boats would be removed from the water and stored within existing storage facilities.

“The lake would be used for non-motorised boating only, e.g. rowing/paddle boats, with the exception of a motorised boat which would be used for health, safety and control purposes only, if required.

“The lake would only be used for recreational boating seasonally, between April to October inclusive and only during operational day-light hours.”

A decision on the application is expected by the end of September.

The county council says the park is “one of Nottinghamshire’s favourite attractions”.

The council says: “Open every day except Christmas Day, the park has something for everyone - from falconry to Morris dancing, craft courses to children’s trails there’s always something to enjoy.

“Take a stroll around the 150 acres of tranquil woodland, meadow and gardens. Pause at the lake to feed the cheeky ducks or take a peep into the romantic ruins of Rufford’s 12th century abbey.”

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