Work has started to create an ecology park on the landward side of Rossall sea defences from West Way to Fairway.
The 1.5km strip of land will be known as Larkholme Grasslands and is already classed as a Biological Heritage Site because of the rare species of flora and fauna that grow there. The area will be enhanced to allow residents to enjoy the rich and diverse wildlife and will feature specially created sculptures, designed by Mythic Coast
artist Stephen Broadbent.
Councillor Roger Berry, Cabinet member with responsibility for sea defences at Wyre Council, said: "This landscaping work will bring the finishing touches to a fantastic new promenade and provide a much more attractive environment for those living behind the sea defences.
"We're making the most of the area's natural features, creating an ecology park that celebrates the plants and insects that make the grasslands special, and in line with feedback from consultation with the public. One aspect of the design we were asked to address by residents was the visual impact of the wall from the highway and beyond. As a result, we're raising the land so that just over a metre of seawall will be all that's visible."
The ecology park will feature artworks that bring to life the diverse range of marine species that give the area its Biological Heritage Site status. Colourful aluminium grassland beacons designed by artist Stephen Broadbent will stand tall at pedestrian access points along the promenade and as way-finders connecting paths to the promenade. Hand carved wooden artworks will illustrate a new story about the grasslands' ecology, linking the project to the Mythic Coast, an artwork trail based on folklore and myth surrounding the local coastline. Seating, pathways and bridges will be added to make the whole area more accessible and enjoyable.
Stephen Broadbent, artist, said: "The new Rossall promenade and adjoining Larkholme Grasslands are a significant addition to the Wyre Way coastal path which is developing into a significant and much loved destination. It is also a tremendous opportunity to develop the Mythic Coast story connected with the diverse marine flora and fauna that are being invited to live in their new home. It’s going to be very exciting for local schools and residents to see which plants, bugs and birds come to stay over the years to come."
Two public information events are being held at Marine Hall, The Esplanade, Fleetwood on Wednesday 12 April - 2pm-4pm and 5pm-7pm. Residents can drop in and find out more about plans to transform the site, and artist Stephen Broadbent will be on hand to discuss his designs.
Balfour Beatty is the main contractor for the construction of the new sea defences and landscaping of Larkholme Grasslands. Wyre Council is replacing two kilometres of defences, from Rossall Hospital to Rossall Point, in a £63m coastal defence scheme that will protect 7,500 properties from the risk of flooding.
Mark Farrah, Regional Director of North and Midlands at Balfour Beatty, said: “This work marks the beginning of the end of construction for the Rossall sea defences. Once complete Rossall and Anchorsholme will be the biggest coastal protection scheme in the UK, helping to protect thousands of homes, businesses and the local community from the risk of flooding.”
The first phase of landscaping centres mainly on earthworks, to raise the level of the ground, and some demolition. Turfing, seeding and planting will follow. Rarer plants were translocated away from the site when construction of the sea defences began to prevent damage. There have also been a number of seed collections taken which have been grown offsite ready to be returned at a later date.
The new sea defences are due to be completed in November 2017 when the promenade will also re-open. Larkholme Grasslands will be completed in spring 2018.
To find out more call into the information cabin at West Way car park which is open Monday to Friday, 7.30am to 5.30pm, or visit fyldecoastalprogramme.co.uk.
Artist's impressions of the new sea defences, promenade and Larkholme Grasslands: