What is next for outdoor education after the closure of Kilbowie Outdoor Centre?
Councillors have been updated on North Lanarkshire’s Country Parks for the Future programme, and to what extent outdoor education will be involved, following the council's closure of Kilbowie Outdoor Centre.
North Lanarkshire Council’s head of environmental assets, Nicole Paterson, presented the environment and transport committee with the second annual update on the programme, which is expected to take up to 15 years to complete.
The goal is to transform how country parks are used by communities by delivering various improvements across North Lanarkshire.
During the pandemic vehicular access to parks has been restricted to promote walking and cycling, including the access road at Strathclyde Country Park in Motherwell and Drumpellier Country Park in Coatbridge. Park users were surveyed in March and more detailed consultation will be carried out. Additional consultation will be carried out in relation to a proposed velo park at Strathclyde and a new access to the park from Bellshill.
Since August 2020 work has also been ongoing on improving outdoor education experiences for P7 pupils and children with additional support needs, including boating and rowing experiences and outdoor skills workshops. A new outdoor shelter has been created at Strathclyde Country Park to help with this expansion.
By using funds which were approved in March, staff will be hired for the greenspace projects team to help ensure the success of the programme.
Councillor William Goldie asked if there were plans to widen access to the outdoor education experiences to additional age groups and at other parks.
Ms Paterson confirmed that the current programmes were pilots but education staff were working on an enhanced project involving more year groups and schools but continuing to focus on Strathclyde as the boating aspect was the most enjoyed by children. However it was intended to also provide outdoor learning experiences at other country parks.
Councillors agreed to note the ongoing consultations and proposals to develop designs for an application to the Sport Scotland Cycling Facilities Fund, as well as the progress being made.