Industrial land re-opened as community park

After seven years of decontamination works, design and construction, last weekend saw the official opening of a brand new 52-hectare park in Sunderland, on the site of a former cokeworks factory.

The Elba Park is the result of a £25million investment by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to transform the contaminated industrial site into a landscaped, country park.

Contractors moved over two million cubic metres of soil as part of the process to make the site safe, as well as planting 77,000 trees and creating 3,700 metres of new footpaths.

Speaking at the opening of the park last Friday (1 October), Pat Ritchie of the HCA, said: “We have worked side by side with local people for the past seven years to reclaim this site and make it safe for the community. Today is a chance to honour Lambton’s proud industrial heritage and to celebrate a new future for the site, providing green space for a new generation.”

But while Elba’s green spaces and carved footpaths are a far cry from the Lambton Colliery and Cokeworks which occupied the site for 364 years, further changes are still to come with over 350 new family homes planned for the site.

Constructed by David Wilson Homes North East, the homes will be built to a Level 4 standard for sustainable homes, meaning they will emit at least 44 per cent less CO2 than standard building regulations allow. The properties will also include further energy-saving features such as rainwater harvesting and solar roof tiles.

Managing director of David Wilson Homes North East, Mike Roberts, added: “We have worked closely with the Homes and Communities Agency to deliver this development, which will provide a wide range of high-quality homes in a superb setting next to the new country park, together with jobs and training opportunities for local people.

“It has already attracted huge interest, which highlights the strong demand that exists for new homes in the area. We’re looking forward to making Elba Park a thriving new community.”

Sam Plester

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