A PLAN to create Scotland’s largest heritage and nature park is to benefit from £4.5 million of lottery funding.
The Seven Lochs Wetland Park project aims to bring together 16 square kilometres (9.9 sq miles) of lochs, park, nature reserves and woodlands between Glasgow and Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire.
Glasgow City and North Lanarkshire councils, Forest Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Conservation Volunteers Scotland have joined forces for the scheme.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) award would meet more than half the cost of the project, which comes in at £6.8 million in total.
Officials hope to set out how the area’s heritage buildings, wildlife habitat and archaeology will be improved, protected and brought together if the project goes ahead.
They also hope the park will become a “major new hub” for heritage conservation, learning and engagement.
Councillor Maureen Burke, chair of the Seven Lochs Partnership, said: “This is a unique project and a considerable amount of effort has been put in by partners and local communities.
“We are thrilled to receive this funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which allows us to move forward with the development of the Seven Lochs Wetland Park.
“It offers people a fantastic opportunity to engage with important natural heritage first-hand and increase their understanding of why particular local habitats are internationally important, and how these need to be protected.”
Improved visitor facilities are planned to create gateways to the park at Hogganfield Loch, Provan Hall, Drumpellier Country Park and Glenboig Life Centre as well as the restoration of Provan Hall, one of Glasgow’s oldest buildings.
The project also plans to develop walking and cycling routes linking the gateway sites and improvements to paths, signage, interpretation and management across the whole park.
Lucy Casot, head of the HLF in Scotland, said: “HLF is delighted to support this ground-breaking project which will develop nature-based tourism within a mostly urban environment.
“Thanks to players of the National Lottery, both the history and natural heritage of the area will be protected and celebrated bringing economic benefit to local communities and Scotland as a whole.”