A project which will transform a 4.6-acre disused allotment site into an accessible woodland park is forging ahead following donations from Esh Construction and a host of other partners.
Loftus community woodland will improve access to nature by providing a space for locals to visit and walk, as well as opportunities for community groups and school children to get involved with volunteering activities. Spearheaded by Beyond Housing, Loftus Town Council, and Redcar and Cleveland Council, the project aims to create new habitat and enhance biodiversity in an area which was once heavily industrialised.
Esh’s £30,000 donation funded initial site clearance works which were delivered by Deerness Fencing & Landscaping. Over 1,600m2 of thick scrub brambles were cleared to root level to tackle the invasive species without the use of pesticide and grass seed spread to promote fresh growth. New paths were dug out and existing paths re-laid, all one-and-a-half to two metre wide to improve accessibility for disabled users and space for side-by-side walking.
The discovery of a natural spring was a welcome surprise and necessary pipework was installed to allow the water to feed the land – eventually the spring area will become a wetland planting area.
Mark Binns, Construction Director at Esh Construction, commented: “It is great to see the progress so far on the woodland project which will provide so much benefit to the local community. From volunteering to work experience opportunities to family events, we are proud to pledge our support to a scheme which aims to unite people through nature.”
The £210,000 project is being part-funded by a grant of £124,100 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Green Recovery Challenge Fund. Further match-funding investments of £20,000, £30,000 and £50,000 were provided by Beyond Housing, Esh Construction, and Groundwork NE & Cumbria, respectively.
James Hayward, Chair of the Board at Beyond Housing, said: “At Beyond Housing we go beyond the bricks and mortar to help our customers and communities to succeed and thrive. The woodland project is a fantastic example of this, in providing an accessible woodland park to improve health and wellbeing for local people, whilst creating opportunities for training and employment and benefiting the environment.
“It’s excellent to see the hard work of our community connectors and partners coming together to make the woodland a facility that Loftus residents can enjoy for many years to come.”
A significant amount of work has been delivered by young people undertaking work experience placements with Groundwork NE & Cumbria as part of the government-funded Kickstart employment scheme. Work experience student, Jack Beaumont, said: “We’ve learned new skills and it has pushed us outside of our comfort zone. We’ve increased our confidence and built up our skill set.”
Esh Construction pledged to support the scheme as part of its commitment to delivering social and economic value on a nearby housing development, Hummersea Hills. The 128-home scheme – procured via Efficiency North – is being delivered on behalf of Beyond Housing and includes a mix of houses, apartments and bungalows as well as 43 properties which will be provided with care and support services from a purpose-built on-site support hub.
It is great to see the progress so far on the woodland project which will provide so much benefit to the local community. From volunteering to work experience opportunities to family events, we are proud to pledge our support to a scheme which aims to unite people through nature.”