PLANS to regenerate a park that was once the jewel at the heart of a mining community were unveiled this week.

View Lane Park in Stanley has become virtually a no-go area after years of neglect.

On Monday its owners, Derwentside District Council, revealed proposals for a £750,000 revamp that would restore the town centre space to its former glory.

It hopes to do the same for Stanley's forgotten park as a recently-finished scheme did for Consett.

Steve Howell, head of leisure services in Derwentside, said: "We feel it is important to breathe new life into a facility that has been run down. Parks generally have been the victim of council neglect due to cutbacks, but there are schemes about now that can help remedy this."

The proposals include a muchneeded children's play area, plus restoration works to paths and the bridge. A new entrance could be created in the north-east corner of the site to link with new housing next to the park. It is hoped the cash will come from the National Lottery Heritage fund, with some funding provided by the council.

Mr Howell said fund managers had already shown some interest in the site. "One of the things that is interesting from their point of view is that the trees on site now are the original ones put in.

"This means that, for heritage value, the trees are actually of more interest than the park structure itself."

The first stage of the bid is expected to be submitted before Christmas.

The seven-acre park was established at the turn of the century, by the former local authority, Stanley Council.

The land was originally part of the Shield Row Plantation, owned by the Shafto family.

Its heyday was the Twenties and Thirties, but by the Eighties it had fallen into decline.

The council is setting up a steering group, the Friends of View Lane Park, to guide the project and decide on the final plans.

Anyone interested in joining should contact Mr Howell on (01207) 218526.

* Map of proposed layout - See Page