Lorry landfill scheme replace with eco-friendly pitch initiative at Harpenden park

The spoil in Rothamsted Park with the new leisure centre in the background.

The spoil in Rothamsted Park with the new leisure centre in the background. - Credit: Archant

A staggering 1,400 lorry journeys back and forth to a landfill site will be avoided by work to contour a football pitch and events area in a Harpenden park.

Around 10,000 cubic metres of subsoil was excavated during the construction of the new £20m Rothamsted leisure centre development.

But rather than stick to the original plan of using a fleet of trucks to transport the material to landfill, a more eco-friendly initiative was devised.

The pitch has now been fenced off and work is underway to transfer the soil and start the levelling works before the land is seeded. The project is likely to take up to nine weeks, and the land will remain fenced off until the grass is established.

Contractor Willmott Dixon is carrying out the work on behalf of park owners St Albans district council. Planning permission for the spoil project was obtained this year while environmental tests confirmed it was free of asbestos or other contaminants and suitable for reuse.

Cllr Robert Donald, portfolio holder for commercial, development and wellbeing, said: “The spoil has been safely stored on site while preparation work for the contouring was undertaken.

“This is an initiative with a double purpose in terms of environmental sustainability and improvements to the outdoor leisure activities in the park.

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“We are reusing a huge amount of material that would otherwise be wasted in landfill and we will be carrying out much-needed levelling work on a football pitch where other events are sometimes held.

“There will also be a significant reduction in construction traffic that will result from relocating this spoil within the park itself and is a further demonstration of our commitment to improve the environment.”

The swimming pool building in the park is being transformed into a state-of-the-art leisure centre.

It will include an improved gym, new café, sports hall, sauna, steam room, learner pool and refurbished main pool.

The nearby sports centre is being converted into a multi-purpose cultural centre fit for the 21st century, replacing ageing Harpenden Public Halls in Southdown Road.

It will include a 511-seat theatre, two function rooms, an exhibition space, bars on two floors and a café overlooking the park.

The leisure centre is due to open this winter and the cultural centre is set to open in mid-2021.