The removal of old trees and undergrowth, which made up almost 17-tonnes of rubbish, from a site in central Grimsby will enable its complete transformation into a family space where biodiversity can thrive.
With the Garth Lane site now clear, work on its redevelopment and that of its nearby waterfront and pedestrian areas, will start.
A scheduled March start date for major works has been postponed due to the on-going Coronavirus situation. However, work will begin on an initial phase of the project this week, focusing on a self-contained section on the Freshney Place side of Frederick Ward Way.
With all the necessary hygiene and safety precautions adhered to, paving will be replaced, a temporary pedestrian crossing will be installed and the central island on Victoria Street South replaced – this being the small section of road between Frederick Ward Way and the entrance to Freshney Place car park.
Last month Humberston-based Creative Nature UK Limited had spent a week clearing undergrowth and removing bushes and old trees at the main Garth Lane site. Huge roll-on, roll-off skips were filled, with large amounts of drug paraphernalia put safely into secure sharps bins.
The suitable chippings from undergrowth and trees were sent for biomass and the branches from the old Willow that stood next to the footbridge have been removed for upcycling. There are plans to reuse them as part of the project.
£3.5m is being invested in Garth Lane, with support from the Humber LEP (HLEP) and The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, with funding released as a result of the Grimsby Town Deal. Spearheaded by North East Lincolnshire Council, the project is being managed by its regeneration partners ENGIE.
A new 5m-wide footbridge will be installed, and the area remodelled to create a family-friendly green space with new furniture, planting, river dredging, and information boards to encourage learning of the natural environment.
Ben Burgess of Creative Nature has been advising on the planting project, as well as dealing with the clearance, which took place before bird nesting season.
“It was incredible to see the sheer amount of rubbish that was unearthed once we had cleared the vegetation off the top, fly-tipped clothes and plastics, so many bottles along with a make-shift shelter, duvets and sleeping bags, a piece of furniture that was once an arm chair and general rubbish and plastics,” said Ben.
With extensive experience working on natural biodiversity projects, Ben was delighted to be working in the Garth Lane area – where his family’s garage business was once sited. A large part of the work was the removal of large shrubs and old trees that were reaching the end of their natural lifespan.
“A lot of what we do looks brutal and may appear to be unsupportive of the environment, but it is in fact the opposite in the longer term,” he explained.
He has looked at the planting scheme to ensure improved biodiversity, which can be managed in the right way. The clearance also allows for safer pedestrian access, with no hidden areas, he said.
“The way it was before, was unmanageable with brambles that you could see dominating the surface, but nothing growing beneath and therefore had limited ecological value. It can now be managed, allowing other species of plants to thrive and improve the biodiversity of the whole site. For me, it is about creating a safe, usable space,” added Ben.
The council’s Cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr John Fenty, is keen to see the project progress: “This area is a popular thoroughfare through the town, and it will be fantastic to see it remodelled for everyone to enjoy. Garth Lane’s transformation is one of a number of projects being planned to rejuvenate our town centre area.”