Portsmouth's new country park will be '˜the gem in the city's crown' Â
WORK is set to begin to transform a formerÂ landfill site blighting the entrance to Portsmouth into a new 128-acre country park.
After years on the back-burner, the expansive refuse area to the west of the M275Â is finally getting theÂ gleaming makeoverÂ first mooted years ago.
During a two-year project it will be reshaped from a barren eyesore into the Horsea Island Country Park, a new green space the size of 86 football pitches.
It's anticipated the park will open to residents in the summer of 2020, with the first part of the once-in-a-generation transformation scheme beginning next month.
The park willÂ include the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Wood, with 50,000 trees being planted to create the new eco-friendly habitat.Â
On top of this, the newÂ country park will feature wildflower meadows, cycle trails, footpaths, picnic areas and stunning views across PortsmouthÂ harbour.Â
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, welcomed the news and said: '˜This is great for the city's green credentials. Literally turning an old landfill site into what will eventually become a beautiful country park should be something that we can all get behind and enjoy when it opens to the public in 2020.Â Â
'˜The new park could be a new jewel in the crown of the city and I welcome this news.'Â
The cash to create the park has come from the Â£50m City Deal to enhance Portsmouth.Â Landscaping of theÂ attraction will be carried out by waste contractor Veolia, which holds the lease for the land.Â
The first work to begin will be the creation ofÂ a new accessÂ road and a 150-space car park,Â funded by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.
Councillor Ben Dowling, Portsmouth's planning and regeneration boss, was pleased the makeover was finally getting underway.
The Lib Dem said:Â '˜This is a really significant project. We're using 50,000 trees to create a landmark green spaceÂ for local residents to enjoy for generationsÂ to come.'
Councillor Donna Jones, the city's Tory leader and former council boss, said the park would be a major new attraction, boosting tourism and economy in the future.Â
She added a new bridge could laterÂ Â be created from the M275 to allow people stroll to the county park from the city.Â Â Cllr Jones said: '˜This will be yet another feather in the cap of Portsmouth. This is going to be a real good way to bring people into the city.'
Environmental monitoring of theÂ landfillÂ is continuing until 2020. Portsmouth City Council said this is when the site will be safe to open.
Natascha McIntyre Hall, assistant director of strategic development at the council, said: '˜Health and safety is extremely important and when it is ready for people to have access to it then the park can open.'
'˜There is lots of testing going on all the time to make sure the landfill site is safe. We need to reach desired levels and it is one of the reasons we open in 2020 is to ensure it is safe.'
She added this was an '˜exciting' opportunity for PortsmouthÂ which, as the most densely populated city outside of London, was '˜crying out' for green space.
Residents are now being invited to a drop-in session at Port Solent later this month to give their views.Â
The event will be staged at the former Chimichanga restaurant in the Boardwalk, from 9.30am until 7pm on Tuesday, August 28.Â
People will be able to speak to those behind the project to find out more.
Planned works will take place between 8am and 5pm. No work will take place over the weekend.Â Deliveries will be made via Port Way. No lorries will arrive before 10am and after 4pm.