A four-year community-led project to reinvigorate a neglected North Tyneside park has come to a successful conclusion.
The Friends of Benton Quarry Park has completed work on installing a substantial new drainage system in the central area of the park that was previously susceptible to flooding and was often unusable for several months of the year as a result.
A £10,000 grant was provided in support of the project by regional property and energy firm The Banks Group via its Banks Community Fund, which has in turn helped to unlock additional funding from other sources.
Site investigation and landscape design work was carried out by North Tyneside Council, which has also reseeded the area, while local contractor Seymour Construction successfully tendered to carry out the required engineering works on site was employed to carry out the required work.
The Friends have also improved and extended the network of footpaths that runs around the park to make it accessible to all users, with road planings and other materials from the current Silverlink and Coast Road roadworks being donated by project contractor Lagan Construction and utilised to provide a firm, sub-base for all the new footpaths.
Wooden seating built by service users at Key Enterprises in North Shields, which provides work experience opportunities for adults with learning disabilities, mental health problems or acquired brain injuries, is also to be installed around the park.
Set up four years ago, The Friends of Benton Quarry Park group is led by a core of eight volunteers and has received widespread community support.
Lionel Hehir, chair of the Friends group, says: “Benton Quarry Park is an invaluable green oasis within our urban area, but the structure of the ground meant that water wasn’t able to drain away as it should and so left the ground very wet or completely flooded through the winter months.
“The Friends group was formed to develop and implement a clear plan to resolve this situation, and we’ve had a lot of support from across the community and from North Tyneside Council towards making it happen.
“The new drainage system means that people will be able to use the park all year-round, while being able to reuse material from the Silverlink junction is an environmentally-effective way for us to have improved the footpaths and made them accessible for everyone.
“The park looks so much nicer as a result of everything that’s been done, and is being used by a growing number of people from every part of our community.
“We wouldn’t have been able to make this project happen without the initial support we received from The Banks Group, and it will make a massive difference to all parts of our community for many years to come.”
Chris Kelsey, communications manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The Friends group has been a real driving force towards getting this project off the ground and carried out, and the difference it has made to the park is fantastic.
“It will bring a huge range of long-term health and environmental benefits to the local community, and we’re very pleased to have played a role in making it happen.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.