The eastern half of Panshanger Park, which has been called the 'jewel in the Mimram valley', was opened on 31 March in a statement from Herts County Council, owners Lafarge Tarmac and Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
It follows a consultation last year, when Lafarge Tarmac invited local interest groups and neighbours to a two-day event with the aim of developing and implementing a long-term vision for the park. The firm will continue extracting and processing sand and gravel in other areas of the site over the next three years.
The newly opened section is accessible from the Thieves Lane car park (off the A414 near Hertford), and from Hertingfordbury, where the Friends of Panshanger Park have cleared the existing path from the village. The opening provides immediate access to the cycle route and the circular points of interest trail. Temporary signs and information boards will help visitors to understand more about the park and its points of interest.
Tim Hill, who represents Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust on the Management Committee, said: "Panshanger Park functions as a key refuge in the Mimram Valley, part of the Lea catchment nature Improvement Area. Well planned restoration, combined with good land management and monitoring of the habitats of Panshanger Park means that the woodlands, wetlands and grasslands now support one of the most diverse wildlife communities in Hertfordshire.
The Trust welcomes the opening of the park as it is one of the best places in the county for everyone to experience and learn more about nature. We look forward to continuing our work with Lafarge Tarmac to ensure that the park provides the best possible opportunities for both people and wildlife."
The next stage for the park will be the production of a comprehensive masterplan which addresses some of the heritage considerations, a prospective visitor and education centre, and improved public access.