Watermead Country Park benefits from united councils

By Conor de Smith

Improvements have been made to Watermead Country Park in an attempt to raise its profile as a top tourist attraction.

The county and city councils have worked together to harness the Leicestershire park’s full potential and increase the number of visitors.

There have been 50 new signs, including interpretation boards, erected across the two sites which cover more than 350 acres.

Watermead, which has the River Soar and Grand Union Canal running through it, has attracted more than 245,000 visitors since April but a closer working relationship between Leicestershire County Council and Leicester City Council could help raise this figure.

The park has historically had two identities; the south section at Rushey Mead is managed by the city council and the north section at Wanlip Road being managed by the county council.

All signage now includes the joint branding of county and city councils’ logos as both authorities work together to improve connectivity.

County Council leader Nicholas Rushton hopes that this ‘shared vision’ will be in the best interest of the public. He said: “When the public visit places, they don’t care who owns it. The idea is to make it one big park that we run together in the best interest of the people visiting there.

“The mayor and I met up a year or so ago and looked at what was wrong with the park. The first thing we identified was anomalies with the parking, anomalies with the signage and anomalies with how the walk takes place.”

Watermead has been the subject of many initiatives over the years such as the Watermead Regeneration Corridor, improvements in parking arrangements and a proposed new visitor centre.

Plans to improve walkways and build a bridge over King Lear’s Lake have also been discussed according to Mr Rushton, who was closely involved in this project.

Mr Rushton believes there is a reason why authorities are always looking to improve the park.

He said: “It’s so important. It’s good to get people walking and to experience the health benefits. It’s full of people at the weekends, it’s a really nice area and you can’t believe you’re in the middle of Leicester when you’re down there. People like them so we’re keen to enhance and improve them.”

Discussions have also started on the possibility of providing a more permanent link between the two sections of the country park, but the talks are at a very early stage.

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