MORE money could be ploughed into plans to create a new nature park near Barnsley town centre.

The Fleets, in Smithies, which has already been allocated £81,966 in Section 106 cash - funds put aside by developers for loss of amenity - is set to be discussed by members of the North Area Council on Monday and could see another cash injection from its own budget being approved.

The Section 106 money will result in the creation of a wildflower meadow, a network of footpaths and cycleways, a public bridleway and a gateway to an extended ‘wildlife corridor’ along the River Dearne and Barnsley Canal.

The Fleets has been identified as a key area for improvement by council bosses due to its close proximity to Barnsley town centre, according to a report.

It added: “The Fleets area is the missing link in the chain of Barnsley’s beautiful greenspaces along the River Dearne corridor.

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“It is important from a wildlife perspective and joins, enhances and protects important habitats within the ‘Dearne Valley Green Heart Nature Improvement Area’ as referred to in the local plan (the council’s blueprint for future development projects).

“The reputation of the Dearne Valley is growing both regionally and nationally due to the richness of the local wildlife. Although it has huge potential as a recreational area, in its current form the Fleets area is a deterrent for local people and visitors to Barnsley wishing to explore the river corridor and its bridleways and pathways.

“It has become overgrown and attracted antisocial behaviour.

“The area is naturally a wetland, hence its industrial heritage, having previously been occupied by Star Paper Mill.

“This means that it is a unique habitat which is vital for supporting local biodiversity.

“Among others, the Fleets provides a home for willow tits and a bat colony which feed over the wetlands, both of which are rare species and are of a keen interest to experts in terms of conservation.

“The condition and use of the Fleets has a direct impact on this. It is hoped that by improving the Fleets area and the increased, consistent activity will deter those currently responsible for antisocial behaviour from frequenting the location and it will therefore allow residents of the Hartington Drive, Honeywell Close and surrounding areas a safe neighbourhood to take regular exercise and enjoy the greenspace and wildlife.

“This will help to improve both physical and mental health and wellbeing as well as becoming a possible draw for more visitors to the Barnsley area.”