THE council has approved plans for its £2.6m enhancement of Horseshoe Lake as it is set to become a country park.

This means the authority could generate £85,000 a year in income from the improved site, which would feature a new pavilion with an integrated cafe, an expanded car park, a natural play area, water sports and changing areas set to be used by nearly 150,000 people a year.

Cllr Iain McCracken, executive member for culture, delivery and public protection at Bracknell Forest Council (BFC), said: “I am delighted that the council is taking forward further work to establish a country park for our residents.

“We already manage a large number of parks and natural open spaces and this provides residents the opportunity to experience the beauty of Horseshoe Lake with a number of new facilities to enable longer stays and further access to wildlife and nature.”

“The investment in this site will also help create income to support the council in maintaining the many open spaces across the borough to the high standard our residents expect.”

The News revealed the plans for the site in December 2018, outlining that partial funding of the site would come from the sale of two council-owned residential sites which currently house Horseshoe Park staff.

Council reports showed that the authority expects to receive almost £600,000 from the sale of these properties, with a further £120,000 of developer’s contributions expected to help with the fee.

More than £1.1m in revenue is expected after fifteen years and once borrowing debt is paid off, net income is expected to rise to £263,000 per year.

This will come from nearly 150,000 expected annual visitors with an average spend of £6.60 per cafe customer.

Planning procedures are set to go ahead in the next month in order to determine the design of the country park, with an opening date set for April 2021.

Before councillors voted to approve the investment, members of the executive raised concerns about accessibility and safety around the site.

A report produced for the executive outlined that “the area around the site has no local roads suitable for parking and walking access from local facilities and houses is currently very limited. As such it is very important that car traffic is well provided for, with good parking on site, to ensure smooth operation”.

Cllr Marc Brunel-Walker, executive member for economic development and regeneration, said: “At peak times it is very difficult to park in that car park. It is a well-used, well-loved facility and if we are going to move forward with delivering what I think would be an amazing new space and something that everyone in Bracknell Forest could be proud of, we do need to make sure we are addressing the concerns that are coming up around access and the use of the facilities.

“You see the amount of people that are trying to use it (Horseshoe Lake) and we have to balance that out against the people that are going to come. In supporting it, I do have concerns I would like to see addressed as we move through the next stages.”

The proposals were approved by the executive branch at a meeting on Tuesday, February 12.