Anchorsholme will be a ‘fantastic’ facility once five-year sewage project is completed
Looking at the assembled cranes, piles of excavated earth and huge holes in the ground, it is hard to imagine Anchorsholme Park ever existed.
Let alone that it will ever be returned to its former glory.
Since 2015, the park has been occupied by engineers from water company United Utilities which is investing £80m to improve the way our sewage is treated.
When residents flush their loos, the waste is dispatched along pipes which connect in an underground chamber before being sent on to the Fleetwood treatment works for cleaning.
But heavy rain can cause the sewage pipes to overflow, and sometimes dirty water ends up in the sea.
We’re still waiting for planning permission for the updated plans for the pumping station
Such pollution is bad news for Blackpool which now boasts a Blue Flag for its beach as a measure of the quality of its bathing water.
United Utilites is now onto phase two of a four-year programme to upgrade the system.
Work at Anchorsholme involves constructing a 30 metre deep storm tank, relocating the pumping station from the headland to the park, and building a 3.7km long outfall pipe.
But this project is about what goes on above ground as much as below.
When the park re-opens in 2020, it is set to have a new bowling club, a cafe, outdoor seating area, children’s playground, sports area with tennis courts, and a trim trail.
Visitors will be able to access the park directly from the beach and a new stretch of Prince’s Way where multi-million pound improved sea defences are already open.
But the scheme has not been without controversy – from concerns the pumping station will be noisy to recent complaints about tremors as the huge installation is put in place.
Steve Wong, area stakeholder manager for United Utilities, understands why residents have worries – and encourages folk to visit the dedicated customer service centre at the site if they have questions.
He said: “We’re still waiting for planning permission for the updated plans for the pumping station.
“But the pumping station was always going to be above ground to make sure it is more accessible for maintenance.
“All we have done is change it to an L-shaped building, and there will be more green areas for the park.
“It will only run during times of very wet weather, so although there are concerns about noise, people won’t notice it because it would have to be raining torrentially.
“Letters have gone out to people to see the construction areas we have on site.
“If there is anything people want to ask about, they can come to our customer service office.”
The new pumping station will have the capacity to pump 14 tonnes of water per second, which is equivalent to emptying a petrol tanker in three seconds.
United Utilities is due to complete its work in 2019, but the park will not re-open until early 2020.
The former pitch and putt course is among features not being replaced, at the request of the council, and only one of the two bowling greens is being retained.
But users are being consulted on the new buildings, which will be modern designs and clad in uniform grey slate.
Mr Wong added: “We are giving people just as much as they had before. The park will be fantastic when it is done with a brand new cafe and children’s play area.”
The next phase will see the new outfall pipe hopefully arriving in August to be installed in a huge trench which dredgers are currently maintaining and digging out to sea.
It will be made up of six pieces each 2.5 metres in diameter.
By the time it is completed, the park will have been out of action for five years.
But hopefully it will have been worth the wait – with an improved sewage system ensuring the bathing waters are cleaner on the beach just metres from the revamped park.