Clearance work has started on the site of the new Dock Branch Park to allow essential surveys to be carried out.
The park will bring the former, disused Dock Branch railway line in Birkenhead to life, with the first phase creating a linear pedestrian and cycle friendly park between Tower Road and Argyle Street. It will also provide a new transport visitor attraction operated by National Museums Liverpool which links to the existing Wirral Transport Museum.
Following public consultation, a team is developing designs for the park which reflect ideas and aspirations that residents have said are important to them. To create the best design, the team now needs to carry out accurate surveys of the site, examine existing structures and remove asbestos. In order to do this, some areas are being cleared to allow for vehicles and equipment to carry out these investigations.
This work is expected to take two weeks and will include the careful felling of some trees and vegetation clearance. The site currently provides a unique corridor for wildlife, therefore a number of measures are being taken to protect and enhance it, including:
- Any clearance areas have been kept to a minimum which allows for the needed vehicle access and manoeuvring.
- Clearing these areas in a sensitive way, keeping any individual or groups of trees of value. These pockets within these clearance zones will help retain the ‘green corridor’ quality.
- An ecologist will be present during clearance to provide guidance and help identify which trees to keep.
- Protecting the ground and the unique marshland quality of some areas by putting protective walkways in to minimise the impact between clearance zones.
- Felled trees will be stored on the site with the aim of reusing as much of it as possible within the new park design. This will also help minimise waste from the site and reduce our carbon footprint. Potential uses for these trees include new furniture and wildlife-friendly items such as bird boxes and bug hotels.
- When completed the park will be enhanced to provide a minimum of 10% biodiversity net gain. This means any vegetation and trees that are lost will not only be replaced but improved upon.
Wirral Council’s Director of Regeneration and Place, Alan Evans, said: “Dock Branch Park will be a landmark new green space where people can reconnect with each other, nature and heritage. It’s important that the park not only offers new space for people but also preserves and enriches the existing natural environment. The work being carried out over the next few weeks will ensure that we get a park that will boost biodiversity, make the most of the site’s unique heritage, and create somewhere that our communities will be proud of.”
Construction on Dock Branch Park is expected to start in autumn 2023, with the park set to be complete early in 2025. There will be multiple opportunities for the public to be involved in the process along the way.
Dock Branch Park is a major catalyst project within the Birkenhead 2040 Framework, which sets out an ambitious vision to transform the town. The plans include the creation of more family-friendly neighbourhoods, opening up the waterfront and re-connecting it to the town centre, and the creation of up to 1,000 new homes as part of a new low-carbon urban village on the vacant land around the Hind Street area.