Wakefield Council has announced its ambitious plans to transform Pugneys into a thriving wildlife haven by creating new woodland areas, wildflower meadows, and additional wildlife habitats. The 250-acre site, situated in the heart of Wakefield, will be designated as a country park, akin to the renowned Newmillerdam Country Park.
Already boasting a nature reserve on its smaller lake, complete with two bird hides, Pugneys has been proudly flying the Green Flag since 2020. However, starting from 1st July, the reception in the Pugneys visitor centre will be closed. Nevertheless, visitors can still avail themselves of the café and toilet facilities, which will remain open every day from 9 am to 4 pm.
The Council assures visitors that they can continue to enjoy Pugneys just as they always have. Whether it’s taking leisurely strolls and cycling along the picturesque lakeside path, exploring the Pirates’ Cove play area, or embarking on the captivating Blown Away trail, the park promises an unforgettable experience. In addition, pedalos and rowing boats will be available for hire during the upcoming school summer holidays, providing a delightful way to embrace the serene surroundings. Organised groups and charity events will also be permitted to engage in select on-water boat activities.
Councillor Jack Hemingway, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “Pugneys will always be one of the most popular places to visit in Wakefield. We’ve observed how people predominantly utilise Pugneys, and it’s evident that they come here to play, walk, and appreciate nature. Our new approach enables us to enhance the existing features and create an even more enjoyable destination. Most visitors will be able to continue doing precisely what they love about Pugneys.”
Concerns over water safety have led to limited water sport activities at Pugneys in recent years. The Council has had to heavily subsidise such activities due to the lake’s deep water, poor quality, and significant weed growth beneath the surface. Despite efforts to engage a separate operator to oversee these activities, no success has been achieved thus far.
Councillor Hemingway emphasised, “For various reasons, it is not safe to enter the water at Pugneys. The lake plays a vital role in Wakefield’s flood defence system, and the constant flow of water in and out prevents any improvements in water quality and safety. However, Pugneys will still provide fantastic opportunities for walking, cycling, and enjoying the great outdoors. By introducing tree planting initiatives and developing wildlife areas, we can create spaces where visitors can immerse themselves in nature, benefiting their mental well-being. Our aim is to see Pugneys brimming with natural treasures and becoming a haven for our wildlife.”
For more information on Pugneys and its transformation into a wildlife haven, please visit www.wakefield.gov.uk/pugneys.