AMBITIOUS plans have been unveiled to transform parks near the city.

North Lanarkshire council has announced its intention to build a bridge spanning Strathclyde Loch, a community cycling hub and more in a new country parks strategy.

The local authority will seek planning approval next year for its goals of making the parks more attractive to visitors, as well as promoting healthy lifestyles and improving wildlife conservation efforts.

The man-made loch at Strathclyde Country Park will be redesigned to include a paddling lagoon area and a bridge over the water.

Visitors can also look forward to a new outdoor centre with accommodation and events spaces and cyclists will be able to access the park from Bellshill after the creation of a bike pump track.

Public art and new paths will be installed at Strathclyde Park, and a heritage centre opened in the hopes of attracting more visitors.

At Palacerigg Country Park in Cumbernauld, the council will focus on improving the park’s existing facilities, extending car parking spaces and expanding the network of paths around the grounds.

A new entrance to the park will also be opened at Glencryan and the council hopes to start discussions with private companies and charities about becoming involved with the park’s operations, including ongoing discussions over the use of the former visitor centre and Palacerigg House.

The masterplan also includes ambitions to make Drumpellier Country Park into a new “gateway” to the Seven Lochs Wetland Park, connecting Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.

Robert Steenson, the council’s head of enterprise and communities, said the pandemic had shown the importance of greenspace for people’s health and wellbeing.

He added: “Our ambition is to change the way we use our parks and greenspaces, from passive leisure use to active community hubs that increase the many benefits of these valuable community assets.

“Our plans will put country parks at the heart of our communities, with improved active travel routes allowing more people to visit and make them attractive destinations for families, walkers and cyclists, sports enthusiasts, schools and community groups. Public parks are free for everyone to use, and we want provide something for everyone who visits.”

The council is also working in partnership with Greenspace Scotland to look into producing renewable energy in public parks, including installing solar panels and a water source heat pump at Strathclyde Park.