Improvements to George Street Pocket Park

8 February 2017

Cheshire West and Chester Council starts work this month regenerating the disused park on George Street, around Cow Lane Bridge in Chester.

George Street Park has been closed to the public for a number of years, the area is in poor condition and has been used for anti-social behaviour. The area is set to be transformed into an attractive pocket park that opens up views across the Canal towards the City Walls, allowing access for the public to enjoy the tranquillity of this spectacular location.

The Chester Waterways Strategy identifies the opportunity to maximise the benefits of the Shropshire Union Canal including the new bus interchange and the opportunity to incorporate the canal into the public realm both physically and through improved site lines. The recently completed heritage landscaping of King Charles Tower Gardens improved sight lines to the roman wall and the tower to maximise the visitor and resident experience.

The project will be in two stages. The first phase of work will address the sites state of disrepair through management and maintenance of the existing trees and vegetation on site.

The second phase will re-instate the pocket park so that it helps to explain the historical importance of the site whilst also providing wildlife habitat. Completion is due by the end of 2017.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing said: “George Street Pocket Park overlooks the best preserved section of the City Walls and sandstone cutting. The history associated with the site really is quite extraordinary.

“The Walls, viewed from the park follow the line of the original Roman northern defences.  Along this section of Walls one of the most important archaeological finds made in Chester occurred in the 19th century.  Between 1883 and 1892, over 150 Roman (sandstone) tombstones were found. They appear to have been used to repair the Walls. “ An arboriculture survey has been carried out by the Authority’s tree officer to identify both the numbers and species of trees present within the area and to assess their condition. The survey identified approximately 60 trees within the wider site and made recommendations in respect of future management and maintenance.

An avenue of lime trees forms a strong feature within the park and the concept design will enhance this feature, whilst improving views towards the City Walls. Pruning works will be undertaken to the lime avenue to ensure that they are retained in a safe condition with a view to preserving their attractiveness over the longer term.

The survey identified a need to remove twenty trees. The original design objectives included selective clearance to enhance and minimise loss of habitat, with a view to opening up views to King Charles Tower. Following discussions on site with the tree officer and ecologist it was felt that the poor condition of many of the self-seeded trees reduced their habitat value and more meaningful habitat enhancements could be made as part of the second stage of the project, following their removal.

The removal of the trees will create the space for the retained trees to develop, enhancing the area over the longer term. Arboriculture works will take place prior to the bird nesting season of 2017. Observance with COSHH regulations is a requirement for the arboriculture works.

Excavation works will be limited due to the presence of electric cables. Stump grinding is proposed in two instances and may be deferred to take place as part of the main works.

The second phase is due to take place in the autumn of 2017. Clearly defined pathways and viewing platforms will be incorporated into the open space as a whole, opening up vistas of the City Walls and sandstone cutting, enabling a more meaningful appreciation of the extraordinary history of the site that has led to the designation of the walls as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The provision of a pathway opens up the possibility of providing terraces of open space, accessed off the main pathway that can serve a range of purposes (to be identified during the consultation process). Heritage interpretation will be incorporated to tell the story of the site and enable a fuller appreciation of its historic importance. Significant areas of the wider site will have no public access and maintained to a lesser degree in order to encourage wildlife.

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