WORK on a huge scheme to revitalise the Scar Top area at Barnard Castle is due to start at the beginning of December.

Contractors will move in to clear the land – part of the town's conservation area around the entrance to the castle - prior to a number of improvements.

These include a new terraced entrance to Scar Top from Galgate, plus further terracing and landscaping at the front of the Woodleigh building – the former Tourist Information Centre.

The existing play area is to be flattened and moved elsewhere on Scar Top and the popular mini-golf course is also to be slightly relocated.

A disused paddling pool is to be removed and the existing golf hut is to be pulled down and replaced with a new modern structure. This will serve both the mini-golf course and act as an information point.

The network of footpaths through Scar Top is also to be altered to accommodate the play area and mini-golf course.

Plans for the improvements have been in the pipeline for more than a year after groups in the town agreed Scar Top was beginning to look a little run down.

Both the play area and the new mini-golf course will have a local theme.

Attractions at the play area will include a timber adventure version of Barnard Castle, complete with draw bridges.

A contractor has been appointed to create six stone carved features for the golf course based on local landmarks including the castle, Bowes Museum, High Force, Egglestone Abbey, the County Bridge and the Buttermarket.

The contract for the mini-golf course work is currently out to tender.

The Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership and Barnard Castle Town Council have been working together on the scheme.

Heart of Teesdale chairman, William Weston, said the idea behind the project was that the new-look Scar Top area would create a better setting for Barnard Castle.

Deputy mayor John Blissett said improvements to Scar Top were long overdue.

“The whole area needed bringing up to date. The play area was in need of renovation, as was the mini-golf course,” he said.

The mini-golf course attracts more than 5,000 people each summer, and Mr Blissett said once the new attraction was ready, it was hoped to offer longer opening hours.

He added: “The terraced and seating areas will be a nice place to sit and take in the beauty of the town away from the main shopping area. This area is a real sun trap.”

The scheme should be completed in time for next summer.