Work has started on creating a new £1.2m urban park in Middlesbrough as part of the £200m Middlehaven regeneration project.
The 0.6ha linear park will connect the Tees Transporter Bridge with the modern town centre. It is being created as part of remediation and infrastructure works ahead of the development of a massive mixed-use transformation of the town's former docklands by the Homes & Communities Agency and Middlesbrough Council.
The park will also provide a focus for the Urban Pioneers development of 14 serviced plots around the park, creating an opportunity for individuals or groups to build small schemes on a "build now, pay later" basis. It is also next to the grade II listed former Captain Cook pub, which was used in 1980s recession comedy drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
Homes & Communities Agency senior area manager Chris Munro said: "The park and the Urban Pioneers scheme will help continue the transformation of Middlehaven, building on the development around the dock. Our investment in the park will ensure the quality of the community that will start to be built here in 2015."
The park is being built by civil engineering, earthworks and remediation firm Blackwell, which is first undertaking remediation on the site and an additional 3ha, both of which are on a former gasworks, in a £3.1m contract.
Project manager John Kissane said the company is digging 2.5m down to remove remaining foundations, structures and contaminated materials. These will be screened and non-contaminated materials will be crushed to provide a base for further development.
In the park, some 3,000cu m of topsoil will be brought in from another site and covered in lawn, ornamental shrubbery beds, gravel paths and a cycle track. Trees, feature benches and low-level lighting will be installed to complete the design.
"It's a very high-specification development with an extensive planting list and quite a large turfed area," Kissane explained.
He added: "It's going to be really good. Currently when you drive into Middlesbrough on the A19 there's an elevated road and as you look down all you can see is an industrial backdrop, but once you're in the town centre it's really nice. This regeneration will improve the whole area."
Initial work on the site has just started and the park will be open in time for Christmas, with contractors returning to the site to plant trees in the new year.
Scheme history Delays and setbacks
The Middlehaven development has so far been several decades in the making, having suffered a number of delays and setbacks.
In 2004, a radical masterplan for the brownfield site was unveiled by renowned architect Will Alsop. Since then, the site has seen the completion of the £70m Middlesbrough College and a number of other multi-million-pound projects.
Developer BioRegional Quintain completed Community in a Cube, an 80-flat block, and was meant to build 750-home mixed-use scheme RiversideOne before withdrawing in 2011 saying it wanted to focus on the London property market.