When South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council was drawing up redevelopment proposals for a derelict riverside jetty at Hebburn next to a large public park, it turned to Royal HaskoningDHV to present a range of options to create a beneficial use of the existing structure and generate a larger recreation space in the area.

We had already had considerable experience with a similar project in Blyth in Northumberland. Like the Blyth Staithes project, the Hebburn jetty was previously used by trains to load coal directly into ships. The advantage here was that, although the top of the jetty was rotten, the strong, structural piles below were generally in good order and could be reused and adapted to safely support a new timber deck.

We arranged to take a delegation from the Offices of the Council to Blyth to give them an idea of what could be achieved at Hebburn. Shortly after this, we produced a feasibility study with a range of different ideas and cost options produced by our landscape architect. The ideal option had to be attractive, easily accessed, vandal resistant and low maintenance.

The final concept design raised the level of the decking to prevent flood risk and prevent vehicles from driving on to the jetty, and the difference in height at the rear of the jetty combined steps and ramps to ensure access for all users. Tiered bench seating, architectural lampposts and decorative handrailing were used to add visual interest. Significant work was undertaken by our landscape architect (SLR Consulting) and a local artist who also engaged the local schoolchildren to create artwork that would be incorporated into the jetty’s railings.

Rather than present a series of engineering drawings, these proposals consisted of artist’s impressions, simple plans and photo montages of architectural details which were then used by the councillors to secure funding for the project – an unusual approach for this type of project, but a costeffective one. The 250m jetty was completed in 2004 and was rewarded with a Commendation for Public Places/Community at the 2006 South Tyneside Good Design Awards.

Our expertise in this project had already been demonstrated elsewhere in the country and this gave the client confidence that we could create an equally spectacular recreational feature at Hebburn.

Drawing on our maritime engineering experience and knowledge of historic timber structures we were able to assess the structural defects and standardise the repair. We were therefore perfectly placed to develop a buildable detail, removing the top of the piles where necessary and rebuilding with new timber, specified to meet the marine environmental conditions.

The success of the project, though, is in the local ownership. By involving the public during the design and construction stages, the Hebburn jetty is now a landmark amenity that’s not just well used, but also looked after by the people in the community it serves.