Described as one of the most contaminated sites in Western Europe, the 98 ha. site Avenue site had a legacy of industrial activity, most recently the manufacture of coke and chemical by-products which polluted the site and the river Rother which flows through it. The site has been restored to provide 25 ha of land for housing together with a school, playing fields and commercial activities, and 73 ha. of public open space with a flood protection scheme, river diversion, fishing ponds, cycle routes and pathways. The design of the remediation began in 1996 and took 13 years. It was founded on the rationale that the work should “achieve an end land use which would be of benefit to the community”. To do so, two objectives were established, first, that there should be a clear exit strategy and second, the work should be completed to high quality and environmental standards ensuring the safety of site users.
Direct site restoration cost to Government c£180m for open space use principally
The model shows social and economic benefits delivered as follows:
- 25 ha carbon storage - Health cost saving in area as a result of dereliction removal - £126k pa - Physical activity well being value £203k pa - £225k pa Gross Value Added - Economic value £668k pa - Educational benefit £32k pa
Stakeholder involvement was an unbroken thread throughout the design phase allowing the design to adapt so community benefits could be realised. The design evolved to meet the communities’ needs, the technical challenges and to deliver value. Land stewardship priorities were met by the “clear exit strategy” which removed perpetual environmental and maintenance liabilities. Execution of the remediation design took a further 9 years and involved thermal desorption of tarry materials, bioremediation, landfill mining and material processing, reaching completion in 2018. Houses are now standing on the development areas and the public open space is now owned and operated by the Land Trust which maintains that part of the site. It has proved popular with the wildlife which is now present, and with the sportsmen, walkers, cyclists and other users, and has received enthusiastic praise for what has been achieved.
Avenue Coke works remediation
Avenue Coking Works UK [The Land Trust] - some facts and figures
Avenue before remediation
The Avenue in summer 2017 – Courtesy Homes England