New parks officer appeals for thoughts on £3.2million redevelopment of South Shields park

Coun Alan Kerr, second left,  with new parks officer Jade Ridley (centre) and  Friends of North and South Marine Parks.
Coun Alan Kerr, second left, with new parks officer Jade Ridley (centre) and Friends of North and South Marine Parks.

A new parks officer has been appointed to look after one of South Tyneside's best loved green spaces.

South Tyneside Council is restoring the historic North Marine Park, in South Shields, back to its original Victoria splendour, with support from a £2.4million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

As part of the £3.2million scheme, Jade Ridley has been as selected to organise activities at the park - working with the project team and with the Friends of North and South Marine parks group, local schoolchildren and the wider community.

To kick off the activity plan, Jade has organised an information day, taking place on Wednesday October 23 - from 11am to 3pm - at the Ocean Road entrance to the park.

The event will give people a chance to view plans for the redevelopment of the park. There will also be children’s entertainment and activities delivered by the popular Tony Junior. Those who would like to get involved in the park can find out more about becoming a Friend of North and South Marine parks.

Jade said: “I’m thrilled to be appointed to the role. I know that North Marine Park is such an important green space that is loved by residents and visitors alike.

“I’m particularly looking forward to working with the local community to provide a much improved park and support the transformation taking shape.”

Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, with responsibility for culture and leisure, said: “North Marine Park is an important part of our cultural heritage and recognised as a real haven of tranquillity.

“We are delighted to appoint Jade for the role of parks officer to work with the community and ensure the best use and maintenance of the park as well as to deliver a range of heritage activities, fun days, music and sporting events.

“Her appointment will reinforce the excellent work of the Friends of North and South Marine parks to make sure the park’s heritage is retained while leaving a legacy for future generations to enjoy.”

The award from the Heritage Lottery Fund as announced earlier this year followed a National Lottery development grant of £194,000 enabling the council and friends group develop detailed plans for the park and hold discussions with the community.

Key elements of the project include creating better links with Littlehaven Promenade and improving the area around the Lawe Top, which as the park’s highest point, acts as an viewing platform for the coastline, harbour and mouth of the river.

The proposals also include creating a new themed play area, which will reflect the Borough’s maritime links and Roman heritage, and restoring the park’s original features such as the grotto and the grand promenade staircase. Improvements to the park’s open areas, lighting, seating, footpaths and bowling area are also planned.

Designs for the new look park are currently subject to the planning process, with the main contractor expected to be appointed over the coming months with a view to start on site in the late spring.

Preliminary work will get underway in the New Year. The park will remain open as work is phased and is expected to take around 12 months to complete.

For further information the plans to restore North Marine Park visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/northmarinepark

Anyone interested in joining the Friends of North and South Marine Parks and getting involved in the restoration project can email the group at friendsoftheparksouthshields@yahoo.com