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£3.2million revamp of South Shields’ North Marine Park set to be complete by end of 2019

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Works to preserve and improve one of South Tyneside’s oldest parks as part of a £3.2million project are set to be completed in December 2019, councillors have been told.

Earlier this year, South Tyneside Council was successful in its bid for £2.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore the historic North Marine Park to its original Victorian character.

Key elements of the project include creating better links between the park and Littlehaven Promenade and Seawall and improving the area around the park’s highest point, Lawe Top.

A themed play area will reflect the borough’s maritime links and Roman heritage alongside planned restoration works on the park’s original grotto and grand promenade staircase and improvements to lighting, seating, footpaths and the bowling area.

All park works are subject to planning permission and the appointment of contractors, which are expected later this year.

On Tuesday (April 17), South Tyneside Council’s place select committee heard updates on the development including the masterplan, technical designs and programme of work.

The masterplan aims to improve visibility and access links in the park “without changing the character of the space” and to encourage volunteering by “reinforcing the excellent work by the Friends of Marine Parks”, a committee presentation stated.

The Pier Parade boundary will also see a new sign, wrought iron gates and brickwork – a mirror of the gate design of South Marine Park which previously benefited from a £5m restoration with HLF funding help.

Works on the northern park’s bowling clubhouse will see the construction of separate male and female toilets, a shared principal room, cavity wall repairs and new roof covering.

Key actions for the project include the submission of technical designs, the appointment of contracts and recruiting a parks officer ahead of a summer events programme.

The programme will be developed alongside park community groups while tree works are set to start in January next year.

Coun Gladys Hobson asked about the time scales linked to HLF funding and how the money would be released to South Tyneside Council.

The committee heard that funds would be released in quarter “chunks” which would have to be spent by the council and claimed back within a five-year time period, as set out in HLF funding conditions.

Coun Wilf Flynn also raised questions about whether a workers’ memorial plaque in the park would be moved to make way for the new plans but was reassured it would stay in it’s current location.

Apprenticeships could also be created for the project, with plans for one apprentice to be in place by September this year alongside collaboration with South Tyneside Homes around training opportunities.

North and South Marine Parks opened in June 1890 with the northern park was created on 7.5 hectares of former ballast hills, with more space dedicated to trees, pathways and shrubbery and offering pastimes such as bowling and petanque.

Physical works on North Marine Park are set to be completed by December 2019 with restored areas opened in phases throughout the year.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service