The new-look Town Lane will become an important cycle route (above) for Southport, as well as a wildlife and recreation area with strong input from local residents
A £1.8 million community woodland built on two industrial wastelands has been opened in Southport.
The Forestry Commission used 47,000 tonnes of sand to nurture trees and wildlife across the 26-hectare plot at Town Lane. The intensive four-month project has galvanised a site which provides views of the West Pennine Moors, Southport Mosses and Blackpool Tower.
Katie Horgan of the Forestry Commission with children from Birkdale Primary School
The development is part of the North-West Development Agency’s £59 million Newlands scheme, aimed at transforming more than 800 hectares of the region’s brownfield sites to boost local economies and improve health and environment resources.
"After months of hard work and investment, we're delighted that the Town Lane community woodland is now complete," said Tim Oliver, Programme Manager for the Forestry Commission.
The Woodland Trust's Tim Kirwan and Simon Mageean with pupils
"The Town Lane project is really important to the ongoing regeneration of Southport and the surrounding area, providing a wide range of social, environmental and economic benefits.
"The regeneration of the site will help turn the area into a greener, cleaner and more attractive space for local people to play, live and work."
Town Lane was a disused landfill site
The Commission will manage the woodland for a minimum of 79 years under the terms of the project, and the NWDA will maintain Town Lane for the next 20 years.
The plans were formed in response to figures showing that woodland cover accounts for less than 7% of land in the North-West, trailing a National count of 8% and a European average of 33%.
Aerial surveillance by the National Land Use Database revealed swathes of brownfield land across the North-West suitable for regeneration.
"The plans for a new community woodland for Southport will bring enormous benefits to the town, providing a natural landscape that will improve the area and deliver a clean and attractive space to play, live and work," said Commission Chair Lord Clark of Windermere.
"Importantly, Newlands will once again demonstrate that environmental regeneration can deliver tangible results and improve the wellbeing of the area and the region."