Dock Branch Park is unique new urban parkland running for over a mile through the heart of Birkenhead Town Centre. It reinterprets a disused rail freight link that once fed the world famous docks at the Port of Liverpool; opening up walking and cycling between the waterfront, town centre and key growth locations as well as putting the people of Birkenhead in touch with the rich built heritage and natural capital of their area.
OPEN worked with Wirral Council to elevate the concept from its origins as a transit corridor to a much more inclusive and impactful environment. Our aim for Dock Branch Park is to establish a new balanced relationship between nature, people and heritage:
• Nature - Dock Branch Park offers an opportunity to re-engage Birkenhead with the natural environment. A 21st century reimagining of the urban park, influenced by surrounding landscapes and integrating, rather than imitating, nature.
• Heritage - Heritage will be at the core of the character of Dock Branch Park. Celebrating the industrial past by preserving, restoring and reimagining the built forms. Using art and technology to engage with the past and tell the story of the Dock Branch Line.
• People - Dock Branch Park will connect neighbourhoods, promoting active transport and encouraging healthy lifestyle and well-being. The landscape will provide a place to meet, a place to learn, and a place to engage with the town’s industrial past and sustainable future.
The park triggers a range of development including the creation of a subterranean transport museum for National Museums Liverpool, a linear neighbourhood of over 2,000 new homes as well as the removal of highway flyovers that previously cut the town centre off from surrounding communities and the waterfront.
As part of a wider multidisciplinary team OPEN have developed costed proposals for the space and built elements within it, supporting the client in the submission of funding bids to central government, through the Towns’ Fund, as well as building strong buy-in from a range of stakeholders and delivery partners. This involved exploring a range of technical challenges to reinterpret the historic structures, opening up new uses and activities as well as handling level transitions across the park and into the surrounding neighbourhoods. We continue to support Wirral in developing more detailed designs for the space to move forward with implementation.
The place and people focused approach to regeneration taken in Birkenhead, which the park epitomises, taps into the unique assets of the town and the experiences it can offer but also addresses strategic weaknesses. The impact of these changes will be dramatic, enhancing the physical and mental health of the community, opening up a range of new physical relationships across the town centre, linking key areas of investment and activity, as well as transforming the amenity and biodiversity of the area.