FAMILIES spoke of their upset upon discovering a popular children's woodland play park had been dismantled.

But council bosses said they had to remove Whalley Moor Woodland Play Area swiftly for safety reasons and assured residents it will be replaced.

Residents say the timber structures, on the Calderstones estate in Whalley, were taken down at some point on Monday afternoon.

Donna Parkinson, who lives in the area, said: "I walk through here every morning. The park was still there at 11am on Monday but at 9.30am on Tuesday it was gone."

Lancashire Telegraph: The woodland park in Calderstones estate has been dismantled

The £125,000 scheme was opened in 2010 and was led by the Friends of Whalley Moor Woodland and funded by the National Lottery, Groundwork Pennine Lancashire, Lancashire County Council and Ribble Valley Borough Council.

At the time, the council said they would manage and maintain the play area and equipment, including swings, climbing frames and a slide.

Donna added: "If it needed work and repair we should have been informed or notified in some way and if the council didn't have the funds I am pretty sure the residents would have come up with a plan of how to raise the monies, but now it's literally been cut into bits.

"They should have given residents notice with explanation."

Lancashire Telegraph: The woodland park in Calderstones estate has been dismantled

A council spokesman said an inspection of the play area ­— including a climbing frame, seesaw and climbing net housed in a bedouin tent ­— had taken place in recent days and raised urgent concerns.

The spokesman said: "For the safety of the children and parents that use the wooden play area, unfortunately it has had to be dismantled.

"Because the wood which made up the structure had rotted and splintered badly, made worse by the weather over winter, it was at risk of failure and would have caused serious injury if this happened during use.

"Options for replacement were already being looked at, however, with many businesses on furlough due to the lockdown, this process is taking longer than would normal.

"There is no intention that the removal of the equipment will be a permanent arrangement and as soon as a suitable supplier is able to carry out the work this will be scheduled to take place."

Pictures of the vacant land were posted on social media, with many expressing dismay.

One resident said: "My kids will be devastated. What’s going on?"

Another person wrote: "It is shocking. Given what our young children have experienced this year they need places to play, to recover and build friendships again."

Lancashire Telegraph: What remains of the Woodland Park in Calderstones after it was bulldozed by the council

What remains of the Woodland Park in Calderstones

Cllr David Berryman, for Whalley Nethertown said: "We will find the money for this to be replaced as quickly as possible, we do have the commitment from the leader to find the money, and hope to have it back by the middle of the summer.

"I am not happy about this and have a duty to put this right."