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features on this page:

NWDA fund Festival park
Festival Gardens sewage disaster
Year of the Environment

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Festival Gardens & Prom
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archive news 2007
archive news 2008


5 November 2009


for latest news page click here

news 2009
in public open space
& public open green space



Plans to privatise Public Open Green Space on Otterspool Park - deadline for objections this Friday 6 November

A press notice was placed in the back pages of the Daily Post last week for this land disposal and objections need to be lodged with the City Solicitor by 6 November (quoting ref. PRT/SC/L11700) - email

Open letter to the City Solicitor and Executive Board of Liverpool City Council:

As a Liverpool resident and regular user of Otterspool Park I wish to object to the disposal of the land package associated with Otterspool Park and the old car park. I have three main objections:

Disposal of park land and public open green space for commercial use.

I don't agree that the Council disposes of public open green space before the public has had a chance to view any proposed plans for the site. I have looked for additional information and it is only '2020 Liverpool' who have supplied me with a sketchy summary of only the positive side to development plans for the site. There is no mention of a private commercial development which I presume this will be.

I object to this public open green space land being used for commercial use. It should continue to be used as a free public amenity.

Will there be any legally binding provisions put in place so that any potential developer does not sell the lease or rent the land to a third party in the event of the proposed scheme closing because it is not commercially viable? What will happen to the land if, after a few years, the developer closes this planned venture?

Lack of transparency of public land disposal advertisement and not informing actual users of this land and pathway of the intended disposal and new commercial use.

This land is currently used as a popular public pathway and the Council are not informing the actual users of this land about it's potential loss. There have not been any public notices about this disposal placed on or near the land in question.

As a member of the public, does the Council expect me to buy the Liverpool Post every day to scan the back pages for a small advertisement of public land disposals? Where are the Council's Green credentials? Can the Council's web site be used to make this information more accessible to the general public and create an easy to find clear advertisement of proposed disposals?

I contest the claim made by the Council that it is not required to advertise disposal of the old car park (West Site on map).

Regarding the old car park in this package, the Council had claimed that this land had no public access so there was no requirement to advertise the land as a disposal of public open space. This land has been freely publicly accessible for many years and is still accessible today.

The old car park site is not accessible by car but it certainly has been easily accessible to pedestrians. This West Site was in public use for many years and after it was closed as a car park it has been easily accessible from the footpath with no fencing in parts. Blocks of stone are positioned along the pathway, of the proposed land for disposal, but any pedestrian can easily walk between the stones onto the site as I have done many times.

This West Site land should be advertised as a disposal of public open space.

John Davies.

At the Executive Board meeting of Liverpool City Council on 9 October it was agreed to advertise the disposal of a section of Otterspool Park. This notification of public land for private use will be bundled together with a former council storage area and old car park which the Council don't want to return to public use. If there are no objections LCC will offer the land for a 125 year lease.

Paul Slater, local wildlife expert, comments:

"Some people may take the view that it is only a small piece of land, and is not worth being too concerned about. However, I personally feel very strongly about the disposal of public open green space, especially when it is to facilitate development nearby. I also have concerns about the way in which the City Council goes about the disposing of public open spaces. This is especially in view of the present administration's very vocal criticism of disposals of public open space when they were in opposition".

The Liverpool Echo on 19 October (click here for full article) quotes Councillor Peter Millea, executive member for assets and development:

“Any proposal to dispose of public open space is advertised and objections carefully considered. However, what is being proposed here is little different to what already exists at Otterspool Park where activity equipment has been placed in the park.
It is proposed to provide activities for young people in the area to take part in organised activities and encourages health and well being.”

The Council want to sell the public land to a local commercial developer and then a planning application will be submitted. The proposed developer has already worked up proposals in conjunction with the Council's Planning Services but these are not available to the general public. 2020 Liverpool who are promoting this project hope that the proposed use is for a family oriented outdoor active adventure centre which on the face of it looks to be a useful addition to the park.

Unfortunately, in Liverpool there is a history of disposal of public open space - blocking of former rights of way and the provision of barriers and restrictions to free movement. Many of Liverpool's public parks and public green spaces have been lost to various commercial developments. In recent years, Speke Park and Dixie Dean Memorial Playing Fields have disappeared and nearly half of Stanley Park has been privatised for development. Not so far from Otterspool Park the Council is supporting the development of a row of 7 large luxury apartment blocks to tower above Otterspool Promenade's coastal pathway. This is part of the Festival Gardens development but some of these blocks are to be built on the public grass banks and on land previously designated by the Council as green space and a green wedge!

For more information on this land disposal - click here for the LCC executive committee meeting
- in item 77b (A&D/16)

updated 5/11/09

Langtree's Festival Gardens park to go ahead with funding from the NWDA

On 17 September Liverpool City Council gave Langtree Developments Ltd the go ahead to restore and reopen part of the Festival Gardens prior to it’s planned housing scheme on other parts of the site. This new private park should be accessible to the general public and is required to be completed by 9 July 2011.

The Langtree scheme is made possible through grant funding from the North West Development Agency. When the park opens the NWDA will cover the costs of maintaining the site for the first 5 years and after that time Langtree have agreed to provide a dowry to cover these maintenance costs.

In early October exploratory work started on Otterspool Promenade embankment with vegetation clearance and the felling of 7 Oak trees. These site investigations are to inform potential contractors of the ground conditions and contamination levels on this former toxic landfill site. Langtree hope to appoint a contractor and for works to start in November when a new access route through the Gardens will be made from the Promenade.

A recommended requirement of the public enquiry specified that none of Langtree's 1400 dwellings should be sold on the Festival Gardens site until the park is complete and open.

Local ward Councillor John Coyne supports the development but has asked for the following provisions to be included:
I) that a publications scheme be drawn up for the disclosure of all data on ground contamination as it is discovered and on procedures being carried out to manage risks; and
II) that ward councillor's be invited to scrutinise the prescribed service levels, particularly for security, prior to the final invitation to tender for the operation of the restored Gardens.

For more detailed information see item 63d Festival Gardens from the Executive Committee's meeting on the LLC's web site:
updated 20/10/09

Garden Festival site still open for abuse - 25 year old Carp killed by raw sewage disaster

Who cares about the state of the Garden Festival site? The site is unsecured and little has been done to stop vandals with many gaps in the fencing and no on-site security.

The entire fish population in the Chinese Lake at the Garden Festival site were killed when raw sewage flooded into the Gardens during the weekend of 20-21 June. Earlier this year a sewage tunnel near Priory Wood collapsed and United Utilities diverted the untreated effluent through pipes under Riverside Drive into the Festival site's sewage system. On 22 June workers found that the pipes had been moved with effluent gushing over the Chinese and Japanese Gardens.

Paul Slater, a wildlife expert on the site since 1984, said the Chinese Lake was horrendously contaminated probably killing all the fish including the large Carp who have survived for over 25 years. Other creatures such as the dragonfly nymphs have been affected. He also commented that the previously clear water had turned a bluish colour and anyone passing the site would have been astonished by the smell.

It was reported that United Utilities were working with Langtree to secure the many breaches in the fence around the site but on 15 July there were still many gaps in the fencing with a large gap in the fence by the bus-stop opposite Priory Wood near to the exposed temporary sewage pipes. Langtree, the lease-holders, withdrew on-site security earlier this year. For more details about the Garden Festival site see item below.

There are still several art works on the site since 1984 but how long will these last? Should self-policing by responsible members of the public on the site be encouraged?

Liverpool's own Year of the Environment 2009

When the rest of Europe has the theme of "Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009" Liverpool City Council make 2009 Year of the Environment. In 2007 the LCC committed itself to this theme after central government warned the Council that it would face financial penalties for exceeding land-fill quotas and that it should catch up with other British cities for recycling it's rubbish.

News of any initiatives for Liverpool Year of the Environment 2009 are, so far, scarce. The Council does not seem to have made any real commitment at community involvement or engagement on this issue. Liverpool's lead Councillor for the Environment (also a paid director of a private recycling company contracted by the city) failed to turn up to address the Environment Task Force (LCVS) Conference held in February. Instead Liverpool's Environment Officer stood in to tell delegates that the new emphasis was now on Climate Change and to create a greener city. She explained how Liverpool has the same sized carbon footprint as Manchester even though Liverpool has a smaller population and far fewer cars - blaming poor housing stock for this. A number of "green bling" comments were heard from the audience when she tried to explain Liverpool's long-term vision for combating climate change. Building requirements for sustainable development were not enforced for the recent multi-million pound Liverpool One private shopping estate - including the privatised and recreated Chavasse Park.

LCC has an image and record problem for environmental issues and, as an organisation, not giving value for money. Liverpool is one of the worst performing sustainable cities in Britain, based on a range of criteria from quality of life, green credentials and environmental policy - according to the Forum for the Future. Out of the 20 largest UK cities in 2007 Liverpool was bottom of the league but by 2008 it had improved to 17th position.

Liverpool's Year of the Environment web site appears to be the main vehicle for communication between LCC and residents over environment issues but appears inactive. Users of this site are eventually directed to LCC's call centre help lines yet these do not offer any fundamental help to engage communities.

It has been Liverpool's art venues who have lead the way in an attempt to raise local environment and community issues. This year the Tate, Bluecoat & FACT made temporary space available on the theme of the environment or to involve local communities. But these low budget one-off events show little real commitment in engaging or supporting the local artist community or any other local community with sustainable dialogue and support. The Tenantspin programme based at FACT seems to be the exception. See the What's on page for more details.

The NWDA provides millions of pounds for environmental projects along the course of the Mersey. The local executive Environment Agency for North West England, based in Manchester, oversees and influences large regional budgets. But LCC remains a maverick power to itself and fits uncomfortably within the North West power base political equation. Liverpool Council follows finance initiatives provided by European funds and central government directives and acts as a testing ground for the latest government schemes. Building developers appear to easily influence the shape of the city and large areas of public space have been privatised. When will LCC create a meaningful dialogue with the people of Liverpool to develop it's own clear vision for the long term for a sustainable future?

New Hospital to be built over Springfield Park

LCC has now agreed to sell, for £1, part of the Springfield Park in West Derby for a new £370m Alder Hay children's hospital. The "functional" designed building is planned to be funded by a Private Finance Initiative and work is expected to start in 2011 with a completion date of 2015.

"The consultation, with its very general questions, has revealed less than half of those asked want a new hospital, but this has been glossed over", stated Dr Maggie Andrews representing the Patient & Public Involvement Forum.

The proposed plans will create new parkland adjoining the Loop Line Cycle Way between East Prescot Rd. and Alder Rd. This is on the land where the existing Alder Hay hospital stands and the area of he new park should be equal to the amount used by the new hospital. New innovating designs are sought so the new park forms an extension to the hospital grounds. Nelson's Memorial will be relocated and a new 1,200 capacity multi-story car park is also planned to help address the serious concerns over parking in the area.

Stanley Park - development update

The site of the proposed new football stadium on the "Big Field" of Stanley Park is still used as public open space for amateur football games and recreation. No concrete news of any start with construction has been reported this Easter. Those who used the public Sports Centre on the edge of Stanley Park, demolished last year as part of the stadium scheme, will have to wait a long time to see a private replacement. If new plans are proposed for a football stadium on Stanley Park will English Heritage speak up this time and ask for a public enquiry and to ask why half of this historic grade II listed Victorian park is to be privatised?

The other half of the park has seen a major regeneration with the rebuilding of the Gladstone Conservatory nearly complete. A new playground is open. The area of old bowling greens, pavilions and a row of willow trees have been flattened and grassed over - replaced by a new footpath with lamp-posts and CCTV cameras along the way. See archive news 2008 for more details.

Sefton Park - Cafe negotiations with Council at deadlock

For over a year renovation of Sefton Park has been in progress with the help of a major Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Rebuilding the cafe, toilets and a new kiosk have been important elements in these plans.

The new Cafe re-build has been delayed because the Council have failed to come to an agreement with the lease owner and manager of the cafe. A substantial price increase in the cafe rent is also under discussion. The Council say that the "quality of the catering on offer remains a key objective" and want an up-market and commercial visitor facility. Negotiations between the Council and the Cafe is now "at the point of collapse".

For several years the Friends of Sefton Park have tried to stay neutral over commercial matters between the Council and the Cafe but they now take the view that these delays and problems are mostly down to the Council and that the Cafe leaseholder has not been fairly treated. The Friends are concerned that the delays over the cafe will impact on the new kiosk and toilets. There is also a concern that the deadlock itself risks having a major effect not only on Sefton Park but other parks and projects in Liverpool seeking aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The next meeting of Friends of Sefton Park is on Sunday 3 May at 2pm in the Old Police Station (side entrance) on Lark Lane.

Festival Gardens Campaign meet Friends of Stanley Park at Tate Liverpool.

Tate Liverpool hosted a day for the Festival Gardens Campaign on the 11 January on it's "Fifth Floor". Members of the Friends of Stanley Park joined the Campaign group in an informative debate about "land giveaways & the privatisation of public open green space". The public inquiries on the Dixie Dene Playing Fields and Festival Gardens schemes were discussed. The privatisation of Stanley Park was also discussed and those present found it incredible that no public inquiry has been given for the development plans to build Liverpool Football Club's stadium on up to half of this grade II listed Victorian park. See news 2008 for more details about Stanley Park.

It was agreed that a data-base should be set up to enable groups from all parts of Liverpool to share their experiences and knowledge regarding land giveaways and the privatisation of public space. If interested email


What's happening with the Festival Gardens site and the development on the Promenade - public money for a private park?

Last summer, after the Public Inquiry, the Secretary of State gave the go-ahead for the Langtree McLean plans to develop the Garden Festival site. Since then McLean has gone into receivership but planning permission is still valid for Langtree to build a private park and 1400 dwellings on the site. The developers are now seeking a grant from the North West Development Agency to cover the costs to construct the Festival Park. As part of the scheme the developers had agreed to cover the costs of building the private park and to provide a dowry for it's maintenance. The "credit crunch" has also forced the developers to withdraw it's on-site security - replaced by occasional foot patrols.

The Public Inquiry Inspector’s Report recommended a requirement for the new park to be completed and open before any properties can be sold. Other requirements state that trees can only be removed immediately before building on woodland. The Inspector also reported that “overall, the effect of the proposed scheme on the character and appearance of the whole promenade would be harmful”. See news 2008 for more details.

Bramble clearance for Skylarks habitat

In the mean time the Festival Gardens Campaign have been organising Bramble clearance Sundays on the open Southern Grasslands area of the site to improve conditions for the Skylarks that nest in the area. Please email for future dates and more details.

New School on Millbank Playing Fields and replacement of open space on Bankfield site, in West Derby.

The relocation of West Derby Comprehensive Schools to the public open green space of Millbank Playing Fields was recommended by the planning committee on 13 January. According to the Council no objections were received by local residents or Sport England. At the same meeting it was accepted that two adult pitches should be made at Springfield Park and Newsham Park to replace the loss of the Millbank Playing Fields.












Otterspool Park



































Realistic illustration of Langtree's Garden Festival development of luxury 'town houses' over Otterspool Promenade





















Ground Control
by Anna Minton. 2009 Penguin paperback about regeneration, security and privatisation of public space. With images by Our Ground photographer John Davies



















Stanley Park, 2007.
Bowling Greens & buildings removed in 2008/9

















Sefton Park Lake


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