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Issue:- 25/26  November 2009


SOUTHPORT'S newest community woodland was unveiled at Town Lane, off Bentham’s Way - Monday, 23 November 2009.  The Forestry Commission transformed the 2 former landfill sites, and other neglected areas, with months of intensive reconditioning to bring it back to life and establish the new community woodland.

In just 4 months 47,000 tonnes of sand from Rainford’s former sand extraction site north of Southport was mixed with 5,730 tonnes of peat to create soil-forming material for trees and wildflowers over the 26 hectare site. It is hoped that a new cycle track, mountain bike skills course and wildlife habitats will be created.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) gave £1.78 million to the project. Town Lane is the latest community woodland from the ‘Newlands’ partnership between the Forestry Commission and NWDA to regenerate the area’s disused landfill sites.

As part of the launch, children from Greenbank High School and Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Primary School took part in a cycle training maintenance session provided by Sefton Council, and there was a cycle demonstration by the Butler Trials cycle team. This activity was designed to help promote healthy activity, the site's links with the national cycle route network and Southport as an official Cycle Town.

To mark the occasion, children from neighbouring Birkdale Primary School got getting their hands dirty planting trees at Town Lane during the day, with help from the Woodland Trust.

The Forestry Commission and Liverpool Biennial commissioned the European artist and architect collective Raumlabor, to temporarily install their work Jantar Mantarat Town... ...continued...

...continued... ...Lane to signal the beginning of a  new life for the site.  The structure, an enormous sun-dial and observatory, was originally conceived as part of their installation, the Promising Land, shown in Bootle in September 2009.

A tour of the Town Lane community woodland was conducted by Tim Oliver (Newlands Programme Manager). 

Tim Oliver from the Forestry Commission is the Newland Programme Manager. He says:- “After months of hard work and investment, we're delighted that the Town Lane community woodland is now complete. The Town Lane project is really important to the ongoing regeneration of Southport and the surrounding area, providing a wide range of social, environmental and economic benefits.  The regeneration of the site will help turn the area into a greener, cleaner and more attractive space for local people to play, live and work. It will also help reinforce Southport's official Cycle Town status."

Work on Town Lane has taken advantage of the raised ground height of the site by creating a scenic viewing platform looking out across the West Pennine Moors, Southport Mosses and Blackpool Tower.

Joe Dwek, Chair of the Environment Sub Committee from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), which invested £1.78m into the Town Lane project, says:- “The Newlands programme is a prime example of how the regeneration of brownfield land can directly impact on improving the quality of life for local people, delivering real benefits to communities and increasing investor confidence. I am delighted to be able to attend this exciting launch.”

In the future, local residents and schools from the site's large neighbouring communities will also get the chance to see their ideas incorporated into further developments at Town Lane, with an emphasis on improving recreational facilities.

Newlands is a unique £59 million NWDA-funded regeneration scheme, which is regenerating over 800 Hectares of the Northwest’s brownfield land to stimulate economic growth and further opportunities for leisure and environmental improvements.  Newlands, which stands for New Economic Environments via Woodlands, is a partnership scheme involving the NWDA and the Forestry Commission.

The NWDA is providing resources to keep Town Lane maintained for the next 20 years and the Forestry Commission will manage the woodland it creates through the project for a further 79 years, making a secure period of nearly 100 years of management for the area’s green space.

A number of local delivery partners, including Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, Mersey Basin Campaign, Environment Agency, The Mersey Forest, BTCV and Groundwork Merseyside are also involved in the project.  Over £300,000 of additional funding has been secured from European Union Objective One Programme via The Mersey Forest Trust.  Town Lane is 1 of 6 Newlands projects being developed in the Mersey Belt area of Northwest England.   More information about Town Lane and other Newlands projects is available at:-  or via:-  More information about the Southport Cycle Town project is available at:-

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