A new public park has opened on the site of the former Avenue coking works.
The 240-acre brownfield site off Mill Lane in Wingerworth – which was thought to be one of Europe’s most contaminated locations – has partly been restored after a major remediation project lasting around 20 years.
The 50-hectare park boasts a football ground, cricket pitch and fishing ponds as well as a number of walking, cycling and horse riding routes which are open to the public.
Anastasija Clayton, senior development manager for accelerated delivery at Homes England – which has funded and managed the multi-million pound scheme – said: “The opening of the Avenue to the public marks a new phase in the redevelopment of this former industrial site.
“The transformed site offers new leisure opportunities to people and will become a key part of a new community which is planned for the area.
“Homes England is already working with Kier Living Ltd to create the first new homes at the Avenue, and later stages of the transformation will bring education and community facilities as well as areas for employment.”
Three areas on the Avenue site continue to undergo remediation and are not accessible to the public. These areas remain fenced off and are clearly marked.
Eventually, it is hoped the Avenue development will boast:
• Up to 1,100 properties by 2033
• Around 12 acres of land for business uses
• A range of facilities including a new primary school and shops
The original Avenue colliery opened in the 1880s and later expanded to include lime and iron works. By 1938, it was all disused and large areas of the site were returned to agriculture.
Construction of the Avenue coking works began in 1952 and became operational in 1956, producing smokeless fuel through coal carbonisation. It was also designed to process chemical by-products. Gas was also produced and supplied to Chesterfield for industrial and domestic use.
At its peak, the works employed 800 people and produced 1,400 tonnes of smokeless fuel a day. The site closed in 1992 with the loss of more than 500 jobs. This was due to market conditions and the changes in regulation requirements for plants of this type.