Port Sunlight River Park
Port Sunlight River Park has been transformed from a closed landfill site to a 35-hectare park proving a popular community space, with an array of walkways, wildlife, wild flowers and a wetland area.
The park, which opened in August 2014, provides visitors with a scenic waterfront and a variety of walks offering stunning views across Merseyside to Liverpool’s iconic waterfront.
Owned by The Land Trust, the park is located on Bolton Road East, Bromborough, Wirral, and is close to the Port Sunlight Village and the River Mersey. The Land Trust has extensive experience of converting Brownfield sites into public green spaces and identified vast potential for the former landfill site. The Trust then approached UK Waste Management Limited (UKWML) to take a 99-year surface lease when the landfill reached the end of its operating life in 2006.
The site is now made up of grassland, lakes and trees, with 17,000 trees planted around the park, with car parks, paths and furniture – benches, signs and information boards for visitors, also incorporated. The only building on site is an ex landfill operators site office, which has been refurbished as an office for the site Ranger and work team.
The Wirral Circular trail is a scenic signposted route at the park that previously bypassed the landfill site. The park enables walkers, joggers and cyclists to continue along the coast through the park. Subject to funding, there are plans for a visitor centre; to further connect the park to two new housing developments and complete a circular route connecting Port Sunlight Village via a bridge and Trust acquired land.
The 32 month project was project managed by the Land Trust and Gillespies, who also provided landscape architecture and contract management and WSP who provided engineering consultancy. The main contractors were Jennings who constructed a new road leading to the park and parking areas and Wrenco who carried out the main park construction with sub-contractors Ground Control. Other landscape and improvement work was undertaken by WAP Lawton, Millar Landscapes, Continental Landscapes, County Landscape Development, , Mike Owens and Angela Sidwell (sculptors for site artwork features) and Future for site leaflets and information boards.
Following its opening, in its first year over 250 people participated in volunteering, with 42 people attending guided walks and 17 walking groups using the site. In a recent survey, 80% of people said that the park played a positive part in their health and wellbeing, with 95% of people saying it helped make the local area a better and more desirable place. 78% said that it had “brought the community together.”
Following the successful development, the project was been short listed for a 2016 RICS Award in the Regeneration category and won a Highly Commended award.
Commenting on the nomination, a spokesperson for The Land Trust said: “Rising 32 metres from the ground and spanning 35 hectares, the park is a public landmark – an endorsement for collaboration and fresh thinking towards Brownfield regeneration. We were pleased to have gained Highly commended at the RICS Awards.”