The popular Brierley Forest Park has become a member of an elite group of outdoor spaces in the UK.
For the park, partly created on the pit heap of the former Sutton Colliery, has been accredited with country park status by the Natural England organisation.
And that means it is officially a top place for people to visit and enjoy recreational activities in a countryside environment.
The news was warmly welcomed by Ashfield District Council, which runs Brierley and has overseen its remarkable transformation into a wildlife haven with walks covering two miles. It boasts attractions that include a football pitch, children’s play area and play trail, fishing and a visitor centre with a cafe.
Edd de Coverly, the council’s service director for place and communities, said: “This accreditation is an outstanding achievement for everyone involved in the upkeep of the fantastic facility that is Brierley Forest Park.
“It is also testament to the exceptional team effort that goes into not only maintaining the park but also continuously improving its standards. I hope residents in the Ashfield area and beyond will take full advantage of the activities and events that Brierley has to offer.”
Natural England is the government’s adviser on the natural environment within the country, helping to protect nature and landscapes and promote conservation as well as access to the countryside. The council works closely with the norganisation on the management of Brierley Forest Park, and has a ten-year funding agreement with it to ensure that the meadows, wetlands, grasslands and wolldlands of the park are kept in good condition and expertly looked after.
A spokesman for Natural England said: “We are delighted that Ashfield District Council has achieved country park status for Brierley Forest, and we are glad to be supporting it in ensuring the long-term protection of such an important local area.”
Brierley, which covers 250 acres and first opened in the Stanton Hill and Huthwaite area in May 1994, is also one of six Ashfield parks and open spaces to hold a prestigious Green Flag award. This is surefire recognition among the public that it boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities. The other five with Green Flags are Kingsway Park in Kirkby, Portland Park in Kirkby, Selston Golf Course, Sutton Lawn and Titchfield Park in Hucknall.
Most of these open spaces would not function properly without an army of willing volunteers. And the council is full opf praise for those who help to make Brierley such a success. These include the Brierley Forest Park Trust, its cafe volunteers, the Brierley Pond Fishing Club and also various community groups in the area.