Posted March 19, 2020
Around 200 metres of the River Freshney at Riverhead will be dredged to pave the way for new riverside walk and bridge as £3.5m project starts
Work has started on the £3.5million project to transform Grimsby town centre's riverside walk.
Ahead of the installation of a new footbridge linking Garth Lane and Riverhead, groundworks have begun.
A number of trees have been chopped down and officials say the large willow tree which has dominated the north bank will also be axed to open up the view of the waterway.
Dredging of the River Freshney, clogged up with silt for many years, is due to start later this year.
A stretch extending 200 metres upstream towards Alexandra Road will be dredged using specialist equipment.
Access to the river from Garth Lane has been established for the heavy plant machinery to scoop out silt.
The footbridge to Frederick Ward Way is due to be widened to five metres.
Chairman of Friends of The Freshney Keith Watkin said: "The council have some big ideas. The Fishing Heritage Centre has worked well. But I don't understand the need to widen the bridge. There had better be some safety measures in place to stop anyone trying to repeat what someone did a few years ago trying to drive across it."
He said the last time full dredging took place in the Riverhead was in the 1950s.
"People at this end of the Freshney on the West Marsh and all along Newhaven Terrace are asking why can't they dredge down this way to prevent flooding," he said.
He added: "There is a good flow along the Freshney and the water is fresher. You can tell by the amount of fish, including roach and perch. But I understand people's concerns about the trees being taken down while there are nesting birds."
When the final plans for the town centre project were announced in December, a North East Lincolnshire Council spokesman said: "As a main link between the town centre and the waterfront area of Alexandra Dock and onto Victoria Mills, the importance of improving access for pedestrians is a priority and the work planned will make sure this is the case.
"We look forward to seeing something very special created here."
North East Lincolnshire Council contractors began removing old and damaged species of trees and bushes around the Garth Lane footbridge.
The £3.5m Garth Lane works are being supported by the Government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (HELP) as part of the Government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse, and the Greater Grimsby Town Deal,
The existing footbridge on Garth Lane is due to be replaced, with a transformation of the banks of the River Freshney, along with the green spaces and public areas leading down to the waterside.
The large 40-year-old willow tree sitting next to the existing bridge, with a limited lifespan and some structural weakness, is coming down and will be replaced by a new willow next to the new structure with a similar tree directly opposite.
Five Dutch Elms will then be planted on the river side of the walkway that leads from the bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf with four Stone Pines put on the opposite side. In all 10 trees will be planted on the site. There is also a plan to plant a couple of Willow trees on the opposite side of Frederick Ward Way to continue the flow of that species from Garth Lane and through onto the Riverhead.
North East Lincolnshire’s tree officer Paul Chaplin said: "It may be perceived by some that we are taking out valuable trees. But the reality is that we are working extremely hard to ensure that what we put back is of far greater quality and value. Our intention is to create a structured feel and ambience with a design that complements the whole area in the future. For example, the Elms going in with their lovely yellow foliage will complement the red brick of the surrounding buildings.”
“Our aim is to intentionally structure the planting, and to influence future planting in the area, to set a precedent for the future,” he added.