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our ground

updated 19 June 2010

2010 news on this page

Overview: a national perspective and Liverpool

Festival Gardens AGM and new park

Liverpool's mess in Stanley Park

Otterspool Park land sold

Work starts on Festival Gardens Park

Campaign web site lost

'Dutch Farm' green space sold

The Value of Urban Parks

2009 news

Otterspool Park Privatisation and open letter of objection to City Council

NWDA fund Festival Gardens Park

Festival Gardens sewage disaster

Liverpool's Year of the Environment 2009

Springfield Park Privatisation

Stanley Park and privatisation plans

Sefton Park cafe deadlock

Tate "5th floor" debate

Festival Gardens & Promenade

Millbank Playing Fields Privatisation

2008 news

Secretary of State gives go-ahead for Festival Gardens scheme

Festival Gardens Public Inquiry ends

Anfield - new design for LFC

U-boat U532 moved to Woodside Ferry Terminal

Biennial Pavilions

Brief history of Stanley Park

2007 news

Otterspool Promenade Privatisation Disposal

Garden Festival Site Inquiry

Campaign & call for Inquiry

Stanley Park Privatisation & Stadium

Stanley Park Restoration

Millbank Playing Fields Privatisation

Parks Forum

Village Green protection status

Princes Park

Sefton Park

Dixie Dean Memorial Playing Fields Privatisation inquiry

Speke Park Privatisation and Speke Parade

Walton Hall Park

public open green space
public open space


for latest news page click here

Massive tree clearance for new Festival Gardens Park

At the Friends of Liverpool Festival Gardens AGM on 26 May, held at Lark Lane Community Centre, representatives for the new Garden Festival Park development were in attendance: The Project Manager, Steve Dawson of Planit who designed the new park, David Evans from the Land Restoration Trust (LRT) who will manage the park on completion next year.

A major concern for the Friends was the massive tree clearance for the new park but Steve Dawson of Planit claimed that this was in accordance with the approved plans.

Cllr. John Coyne was present and he asked what was the point of consultation with the Friends Group if it has not led to any changes to the design of the park? Steve Dawson replied to say that discussions with the Friends had led to some very minor changes.

The 3 phases for the new Garden Festival Park project were explained:

Phase 1: The current phase of construction. Whilst the Park is being constructed the role of the LRT is to consult community and user groups and to appoint a site manager by Autumn this year. The Trust are working with Langtree, Planit and Liverpool City Council.

Phase 2: From March 2011, when the park is due to be completed and open for visitors, for a period of 5 years the Park will be maintained with a grant from the North West Development Agency (NWDA). The grant, for £100,000 per annum, is to cover management and to include the opening and closing of the gates, grass cutting and litter picking. The southern grasslands will continue to be under the care of Langtree as funding has not yet been found for this to be included within the Park although full planning permission has been given for the grasslands to be included in the new park.

Phase 3: After the 5 year NWDA grant has finished an endowment from Langtree is to be handed over to the Land Restoration Trust to cover future maintenance of the Park, but this will only take place if and when Langtree's planned built development commences. The LRT will then hold the lease for the Park, including the grasslands, and be able to liaise with the community for the Park's future development.

more below

Liverpool's mess in Stanley Park

Front page news from the Liverpool Daily Post on 24 March 2010 reports that Liverpool City Council (LCC) faces a £8.2m bill to pay back European grants if Liverpool Football Club (LFC) fails to build a new stadium on the historic public open green space of Stanley Park in Anfield. The Audit Commission reports that Liverpool's management of grant funding during 2008/09 was a 'significant issue'.

In 2007 Our Ground first reported on these financial issues in the Stanley Park Privatisation & Stadium feature.

Details of the partnership between LFC (Stadco), LCC and their Joint Venture Company along with European and NWDA funding can be seen here in the Council's 2007 report: New Anfield - The Restoration of Stanley Park PDF (including a map of the park and other land allocated for LFC). This report acknowledged financial risks if the Council accepted these multi-million pound grants but pointed out that LCC were finalizing a letter of credit from the Royal Bank of Scotland on behalf of LFC.

Delays in 2007 to set up a deal with Liverpool Football Club, including the management security for the whole of Stanley Park, has also effected the Objective One European grant for the Stanley Park Restoration and re-construction of the Gladstone Conservatory. This grant aid finished at the end of 2008 with LCC having to foot the bill for all expenses carried out during 2009.

The original 'Palm House' Conservatory was opened to the public at the beginning of 1900 but by the 1990's it was left derelict by the Council. Work stared in the winter of 2007 to completely rebuild the structure with an additional basement cafe for the general public. The spacious glass-house upper floor is only available for private hire - without any vegetation cover but with a bar. The new building, re-furbished band stand and grounds are now gated with perimeter fencing. Now known as the Isla Gladstone Conservatory it was completed in June 2009 at a cost of £12m.

Otterspool Park land sold off

The sale of land from Otterspool Park was approved by LCC on 29 January to "grow the City's economy". A plan and details of this park land can be found in the 2008 news item here: Otterspool Park Privatisation.

Full details of the Council meeting minutes with details of all the objections and the Council's/Officer's response is available as a pdf from the Council's web site here.

Work starts on Festival Gardens Park

Work has now started to create a new park on a section of the former Liverpool Garden Festival site with a £3.7m grant from the North West Development Agency (NWDA). The new private park, available to the public, is the key justification for Langtree's development to include 1,308 compact apartments and 66 townhouses on this former toxic landfill site.

As a requirement the park has to be finished by July 2011. When open to the public the Land Restoration Trust will take over management of the park and maintenance costs will be covered by the NWDA grant for the first five years. As part of the planning agreement Langtree are required by LCC to provide a £2m dowry for ongoing maintenance of the park. This dowry is a reduced amount from what was promised during the Public Inquiry in 2008.

At short notice the Land Restoration Trust organised a drop-in session for the public to view the plans for the park at Shorefields Technical College on the 24 February. Was this supposed to be a public consultation? The organisers told Our Ground they will organise another meeting in the near future to encourage the involvement of local community groups.

A Community Liaison Leaflet not available for this session states that the managing director of Langtree regards the local community as a partner in the scheme! The Festival Gardens Community Liaison Leaflet (pdf) can be downloaded here and also shows the Planit design of the park for Langtree Developments. Illustrations of the housing plans integrated into the Festival Gardens Park can be viewed here from Langtree's web site.


Coming soon on the public open green space of Otterspool Promenade: Langtree's Festival Garden's development row of 7 'finger blocks'. The Our Ground illustrations, shown above, drawn from Langtree's architectural plans were first presented at the 2008 public inquiry to show the effect of the development on the Promenade. The accuracy of the illustration was not rebutted by Langtree. Local newspapers refuse to show this view of the development.

Yahoo! deletes 'save the festival gardens' web site

The 'Save the Garden Festival Campaign' web site and all the archived reports and images has been lost when Yahoo deleted and closed all geocities web sites it hosted including the campaign web site. The older out of date 2002 Garden Festival Campaign site still remains online. The Our Ground web site and the Riverside Drive Community web site appear to be the only independent voices on the web with a special ongoing interest in the Festival site.

'Dutch Farm' public open green space sell off

On the 26 February the City Council agreed to sell off over half (about 9 acres) of public open green space known as the 'Dutch Farm' in Garston. The Council had previously given planning permission for a South Liverpool Academy and then needed the Dutch Farm land for the development. For more details of objection and response see item 164e from the Executive Board meeting.

The new Academy will replace St. Benedict's and New Heys schools. Both these schools have recently disposed of land for private developments. Near to these schools and Dutch Farm land 'PC World' have built a self-contained large store and car park on the former school playing fields at the corner of Speke Road and Horrocks Road.

A national perspective and Liverpool

Today, different central government departments have conflicting views over the value of public open green space. Some encourage local councils to sell off public land where others see the same public open space as an essential part of the urban infrastructure for a wide range of environmental, social and economic objectives and activities.

The National Playing Fields Association, renamed Fields in Trust, have recommended a ‘Six Acre Standard’. Where a provision of 6 acres (24,000 m2) per 1,000 head of population as a minimum open space requirement and easily reached by people. This measure is recommended by the Department of the Environment in it's planning guidelines.

Liverpool reaches the Six Acre standard in terms of space requirement but there is an unbalanced distribution of public open space throughout the city. To address the balance Liverpool is aiming to provide children's playgrounds accessible to a wider spread of the population.

Even though Liverpool boasts many historic Grade II listed parks a 2008 Research Council study into the history of Liverpool parks found that since the 1970s, there has been 'serious neglect' of parks and the management of urban green space 'has not been seen as a priority by the City Council'.

Statistics published in the House of Commons show 203 school and community sports pitches have been lost in England and Wales under the current government. With ministers approving 49 sales in the four years since it was announced that London would host the 2012 Olympics. Before March 2009 it was possible to sell off areas of sports grounds covering less than an acre without any ministerial approval and it is estimated that more than 1,000 smaller sports fields and areas of school playing fields have also been lost in recent years.

When preparing to dispose of sports and playing fields local authorities inform Sport England for comment. There are many examples in Liverpool where Sport England have not objected to the loss of public open green space or school playing fields - they only appear to be concerned with indoor sporting facilities.

An informative House of Commons note published in December 2009 describes some of the issues and government objections to further protect school playing fields from being sold off for development and to protect public open space in the planning system.


Ground Control by Anna Minton
2009 Penguin paperback
regeneration, security and privatisation of public space
with photographs by John Davies

The Value of Urban Parks

Britain was the first country in the world to develop municipal parks mainly in the industrial centres of northwest England. Amongst others, Prince's Park Liverpool (1842), Birkenhead Park (1847), Hesketh Park Southport (1868) and Stanley Park Liverpool (1870) have been listed by the Garden History Society and Victorian Society as fine examples of this trend.

"Urban Parks and Green Spaces are an essential part of the urban heritage and infrastructure, being a strong element in the architectural and landscape character of a city, providing a sense of place and engendering civic pride.

They are important for enabling social interaction and fostering community development. Public green spaces help conserve natural systems, including carbon, water and other natural cycles, within the urban environment, supporting ecosystems and providing the contrast of living elements in both designed landscapes and conserved wildlife habitats within our urban settlements.

They are supportive of social and economic objectives and activities. In particular the provision of public parks helps to reduce the inequalities, poor health and social exclusion in deprived areas and reduces the inherent tension between the many social and ethnic groups. Providing for the recreational and leisure needs of a community assists the economic revival of cities, increasing their attractiveness as a place for business investment, to live, work and take our leisure."

Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management
quote from The Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee report

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Our Ground welcomes any information about the loss of public open space. Please send event information about parks, playing fields and other public open spaces to