Land next to the River Ouse could be transformed thanks to money which was to pay for tree planting to offset the impact of the incinerator in Newhaven.
The Friends of Riverside Park said it was in talks with East Sussex County Council as to how the money could be spent to improve the area on the western side of the river.
At this stage it is unclear how much would be spent on the park, but the Friends said there was around £500,000 left from Section 106 money given to the county council as a result of the incinerator. Chair of the Friends of Riverside Park Jo Pettitt said: “I am thrilled that the potential of Riverside Park as a community asset is being realised and that Newhaven is set to gain a vastly improved open space with the incinerator public money.
“There’s a limit to the number of trees that can be planted to mitigate the visual impact of the incinerator so this news is very welcome.
“We would like to see a circular path around the site, some benches and a raised multi-purpose playing area on the rec for all ages to enjoy. Information boards about the varied wide variety of species on the park would also be welcome.”
Section 106 money is awarded to councils to offset the impact of developments, for instance it can go towards tree planting, schools or transport infrastructure depending on the impact of the development.
Mrs Pettitt explained there was no agreed timescale at present and the first step would be to carry out habitat and landscape surveys to ensure that any management or improvement of the site was appropriate.
Riverside Park is a huge area opposite the incinerator which includes Lewes Road Recreation Ground, the historic tip site and the wetland area to the north. The southern part of the site is owned by Lewes District Council which is in the process of transferring it to Newhaven Town Council following a petition raised by residents last year. The northern part of the site is owned by East Sussex County Council which is responsible for monitoring the emissions on the former tip.
A county spokesman said: “We are looking at various options for the remaining developer contributions associated with the energy recovery facility, which include improvements to Riverside Park. The first step is to carry out ecological and landscape surveys to assess what kind of improvements might be appropriate. Until this is complete, we won’t know exactly how much money might be used for this purpose. We will discuss the recommendations from the surveys with other bodies including Newhaven Town Council and the Riverside Park community group, whose views will be taken into account before pressing on with detailed plans.”