LOCHORE Meadows is set for a major investment in the region of £800,000 from Fife Council.

The free visitor attraction will see its popular play area get a much-needed upgrade and infrastructure works will also be carried out.

Work should start in January and be completed by April, weather-permitting.

Councillors at the Community and Housing Services sub-committee have agreed to invest £500,000 towards replacing the play area and creating a brand-new inclusive destination playpark.

Swings designed to be used by children with disabilities and a sensory tunnel will be amongst a range of new equipment coming to the park, carefully planned to let all children play together in one place.

New fencing at key locations near the loch and through the wooded area, as well as CCTV, will help keep visitors safe and a new pathway will connect the play area to the visitor centre, giving easy access to the café and toilet facilities.

A further £250,000 has been earmarked for infrastructure works which will support and complement existing facilities. The council’s locality team along with stakeholders are considering different initiatives to improve the visitor experience in the park.

The total cost of the project could be in the region of £800,000.

The council is working with partners to secure other funding and has a further a one-off investment of up to £200,000 from the council’s tourism and community asset to fall back on. The project has drawn on the knowledge and skills of partners in the council, health and third sectors.

Local communities shared their views on the proposed designs when they went on show in the visitor centre during the summer with those from further afield able to see them online.

Cllr Judy Hamilton, Community and Housing Services sub-committee convenor, said:  “Improved facilities for physical activity and sport are a key priority for the council and, as part of this ongoing commitment, a one-off investment of £750,000 from the 2017- 2027 Capital Plan for Improving Health through Leisure and Sport has been allocated towards Lochore Meadows Country Park.  “The first phase is to use £500,000 from this funding for the play park experience whilst the balance of £250,000 will be reinvested in smaller capital projects.

”Lochore Meadows has been enjoyed by generations of Fifers and our commitment to improve the facilities there will ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come”

Park manager Iain Laing said: “Lochore Meadows will be a destination park, a place where families can spend the whole day without costing the earth, but with plenty to keep everyone occupied. It’s one of the jewels in our crown and we want people to keep coming back. The new playpark will be something special, there won’t be anything like it nearby.

“We’ve worked closely with the NHS and play park designers to carefully plan and develop a much-improved play area that’s accessible and inclusive.

“Our play area has always been first class and the current facility has been enjoyed by hundreds of children every day for many years, but this amount of use takes a heavy toll on the equipment.  “The time has come to refresh the area for the benefit of the next generation of children with a greater emphasis on inclusive play allowing all children to play together as one.”

The project is expected to go out to tender in November, with a contractor being appointed by the end of the year.

The investment comes as outdoor venues like Lochore Meadows have enjoyed increased footfall as Fifers enjoyed some fresh air and open space during the pandemic.

Lochore Meadows saw visitor numbers reach 900,000 over the last year.

The new play area will enhance the extensive facilities already on offer, which also include a new energy efficient visitor centre, built in 2017, with a cafe and toilet facilities, golf, mountain bike trails, water sports, woodland walks, a picnic and barbecue area and plenty of wildlife.

Over the summer, staycationers were welcomed to the park with motorhomes able to rent a pitch for an overnight stay as they toured through Fife.