Merseyside events

Mersey Forest

Ranger Service LCC

Palm House - Sefton Park

Croxteth Hall activities

Mersey Valley
Countryside Warden Service

Art in Liverpool

Pool Project



Liverpool City Council information

Parks information

UDP: "Open Environment" list of parks & green spaces PDF

meetings & agendas:

All committee meetings

Regeneration Select Committee

Environment and Climate Change Select Committee


other Merseyside links

Riverside Drive Community

Friends of St James' Cemetery & Park

Wirral Parks & Countryside

Friends of Croxteth Hall & Park

Liverpool's Parks Hilary Burrage

Wavertree Society

British Trust for Conservation Volunteers North West

Red Rose Forest

Merseyside Biodiversity Group

Griffin Wood St Helens

Friends of Earth North West

Mersey Waterfront

Liverpool Community Environment Network

Merseyside Environment Trust


other links

Open Space Society

Green Space

Your Parks PDF from Green Space

Green Flag Awards

Fields in Trust

Land Trust


Sport England



DEFRA - town or village greens

English Heritage

European Landscape Convention

European Landscape Convention
icomos-uk PDF

European Landscape Convention - from Natural England web site

European Landscape Convention - a German perspective

Ken Worpole Environmentalist

Anna Minton author Ground Control

John Davies photographer












eXTReMe Tracker

our ground 2012

Since 2006 Our Ground has reported on the disposal and sales of public open green space across Merseyside. This reflects a national phenomena: the loss of our human right to freely use open space through privatisation schemes for a variety of commercial developments. Local authorities encouraged by successive UK governments have continued to sell-off our parks, open space and public rights of way in towns and cities throughout Britain. more

for current news page click here

On 4 July the Independent Panel on Forestry published its Final Report

The final report makes clear that the English public forest estate is a national asset, which should remain in public ownership.

The report calls for woods and forests to be re-valued for all the benefits they provide. These include areas for recreation, clean air, clean water, and habitats for wildlife. The report calls for a revival of a woodland culture that appreciates how important trees are for people, for nature and the economy.

Hopefully the Coalition Government and the Secretary of State will fully support the report's recommendations.

The Final Report and press release can be downloaded here from Defra's forestry panel report's page

Whinlatter Forest, Cumbria - click here for more details and pictures


Liverpool Festival Gardens opened on 23 June but at what cost?

Liverpool International Garden Festival opening in 1984 - anon.

Preview of the Festival Gardens for local residents on 28 April

After 28 years the Festival Gardens in Liverpool is now open to the public. The Gardens officially opened on Saturday 23 June and is open every day from 8:30am to 7:00pm - until further notice.

The car park will be open at the same times as the Gardens. The smoking ban in the park has been lifted but smoking areas may be restricted - methane gas is a factor. The entire Festival Gardens site is now a private estate leased to Langtree plc and along with the Land Trust they may change opening times for public access.

The hidden cost for the completion of the Gardens can now take it's toll on and around the Festival site. As part of the planning deal with Liverpool City Council, Langtree are now in a position to build over 1300 (1 and 2 bed) apartments next to the Gardens. Plus a row of 7 large finger-blocks running along and on top of the public open green space of Otterspool Promenade. To quote the 2008 Public Inquiry Report into Langtree's development: 'The effect of the proposed scheme on the character and appearance of the whole promenade would be harmful'. The Promenade's quality as a tranquil waterfront public amenity is freely available only until building work commences.

The Land Trust, who are managing the gardens, are directly employing people to care for the park. They are also looking for volunteers in both conservation and horticulture as well as site promotion and events management.

The Grant Funding Agreement for the garden works was between Langtree and the, now defunct, NWDA. The Homes and Communities Agency has now taken over responsibility from NWDA for enforcing the terms of the agreement:
Phase 1 Garden Works (£3.138m) - 31 March 2011 - revised to 2012
Community Works (£0.020m) -  31 March 2013 - revised to 2014
Maintenance Works (£0.568m) - 31 March 2016 - revised to 2017

for more details see Festival Garden background
22 June

Guardian's survey to map 'Privately owned public space'

This June the Guardian's Newspaper Datablog have launched a call for people to help create a map of public spaces in Britain so we can see how much land is under corporate control. Our Ground welcomes the initiative as this is the first attempt to create a centralised resource of freely available information regarding the disposal, privatisation and disappearance of public open space.

See the Guardian's Datablog Survey page to get involved.
18 June


Maintenance of Liverpool's neighbourhood parks under threat - except for Sefton and Stanley Parks

Funding cuts for the maintenance of community/neighbourhood parks are being considered by Liverpool City Council.

Liverpool's Environment and Climate Change Select Committee "regrets that this administration do not value our Green Flag accredited parks as much as our local residents do, and Committee calls upon the administration to look at ways of being able to reapply for Green Flag status for all 18 parks in January 2013 before the Council takes this backward step". LCC did not resubmit Green Flag applications for their 18 accredited parks therefore they will lose their Green Flag status in 2013/14.

Those parks which have benefited from external grant funding agreements will be maintained. Sefton Park and Stanley Park will be re-submitted for Green Flag Awards in 2012.

In respect of Sefton Park's £4,734,000 Heritage Lottery restoration funding, there is a contractual arrangement for the council to adhere to a 10 year maintenance and management plan - the contract is actually binding for 25 years from 30th November 2006 in respect of sales of park land.

The restoration of Stanley Park between 2007 and 2009 was set in the context of the New Anfield Regeneration Project which involves Liverpool Football Club's proposed move to Stanley Park. The project involved a £23 Million programme of activity involving the restoration of Stanley Park, the Gladstone Conservatory and various highway and infrastructure works around the Park.  European Regional development Fund of £9 Million was secured to contribute to this cost with the balance provided in the main by LFC.

more details on this item and agreements with LFC for Stanley Park here from LCC's web site
10 April

Funding confirmed for new Port Sunlight River Park

Directly across the River Mersey from Liverpool's Festival Gardens is another former landfill site: the Bromborough Landfill Site will be turned into the renamed 'Port Sunlight River Park'. In March it was confirmed that £2.2m will be made available via the Newlands programme so that work can begin on the creation of a new tourist attraction for the Wirral.

Over the next 3 years Development partners - including Biffa Waste, The Land Trust, BIS (formally NWDA), The Forestry Commission, Wirral Council and Port Sunlight Village Trust - plan to develop a community woodland, open space and the creation of a major new waterfront visitor attraction on the 28 hectare site.

more details from the land Trust web site

Occupy Movement in Liverpool & London -
public rights to freely access open space have been given away

Occupy London encampment
from the steps of St.Paul's Cathedral, February 2012

Whatever you may think of the Occupy Movement one thing that Occupy London has brought to public attention is the extent of privately owned and commercially controlled land throughout the City. This is a legacy of Thatcher's hidden Britain and the hidden consequences of social control when public open space and highways are sold - this cultural legacy is now widely accepted by planning authorities. Since the 1980's throughout the UK many ancient rights of way, public roads and footpaths, parks, civic open spaces, woods and forests are now privately owned. The sales and transfers of public 'common' land is largely hidden from public view and most of us don't realise our rights to freely access open space is also given away with these sales.

In the UK as in the rest of the European Community private land owners are not required to provide any justification for removing anyone they don't want on their property. The public have no legal right of access to nearly all of the shopping centres, malls or other private estates and private highways in Britain. As long as we are abiding consumers we are welcome. But our legitimate human right to freely use, demonstrate or protest in many of our urban centres has been given away to property owners by our local authorities.

One of the biggest benefactors and landowners in London's financial district of the 'City' is also the same owner of the Liverpool One Estate. This includes Chavasse Park controlled by Grosvenor Estates and is where the Occupy Liverpool group camped - not realising this park is now the private property of the Duke of Westminster. After the camp tents were fenced-in or 'kettled' with metal barriers and surrounded by security guards Occupy Liverpool decided to move on.

Occupy Liverpool have moved to various locations within central Liverpool and on the 1st March they were camped at Exchange Flags a large paved area of public open space at the back of the Town Hall. After one day on the site they were asked to move. Local magistrates were told that the tents were a risk to public safety by the Council's highways manager. But the real reason was that the Occupy Liverpool camp would be in the way and a distraction to the scheduled parade ceremony by the crew of HMS Liverpool on the following day.

But all British roads lead to London and St Paul's Cathedral - the epicenter of, amongst other things, the 'A' road route system. On a section of pavement near the steps of the Cathedral the London Occupy Movement found a place to protest establishing an encampment for over four winter months. After various legal moves to remove the camp the landlord, the City of London, took London Occupy to the High Court who decided that the right of people to use this public highway over-ruled the right of people to protest in the same space. On the 28th February the protest camp were evicted from this civic space and also from the Cathedral land with the blessing of the Church of England.

It was on the 15th October 2011 that Occupy London first wanted to demonstrate outside the London Stock Exchange in Paternoster Square - only to be told by police to keep off the Square as it was private land (acquired from the Church). Apart from the paved area outside London's Anglican Cathedral there is little public open space to speak of in this part of the City - the nearest area of accessible public open space is about a mile away in Finsbury Square and this is where some of the protesters have moved to.
4 March


Festival Gardens - Langtree's poisoned chalice?

Disaster strikes the Festival Gardens Park development once again with the unfortunate collapse of Groundwork Merseyside on the 30th January. Groundwork were appointed managing agents for the park by the Land Trust, the Trust teamed up with Langtree in 2006 to take ownership of the Gardens when restoration is complete. If the Langtree Group plc, the multi-million pound financiers, property developers and current landowner of the site, had managed to deliver its promise to open the park to the public in spring 2011 then Groundwork might have been in a different position today.

As soon as the park is open to the public then Langtree can start to make advance sales on its Festival Gardens properties. On completion of the works and the approval of the underlying methane gas management strategy (LCC is responsible for the gas system on this former landfill site) the lease of the gardens to the Land Trust and the development site to Langtree will be completed.

During the Public Enquiry in 2007-8 Langtree presented detailed plans, drawn up by Planit, to create a new park as part of a deal for their property development on the site to be wholly funded by them and to provide a £2m dowry for ongoing maintenance of the park. However, the enquiry inspector imposed a planning condition agreed by the Secretary of State that Langtree complete and open the park before any properties can be sold.

An economic downturn and the bankruptcy of Langtree's partner Mclean looked like the development might not go ahead. But in 2009 a £3.7m park restoration and maintenance grant was awarded to Langtree through the now defunct NWDA to develop a private but publicly accessible park. Mayfield was appointed by Langtree to build a new park to Planit's designs. By February 2011 Langtree and it's park partners the Land Trust were advising Liverpool's Environment and Climate Change Select Committee that the park would be open ahead of schedule later that spring. But on the 8 July 2011 Mayfield unfortunately went into liquidation leaving park work incomplete.

On 22 Dec 2011 Langtree published a press release blaming delays for finishing the park on it's contractors Mayfield for sub-standard work even though Langtree's design and management team were on site overseeing all works. Tolent are now completing the works.

The recent history of Langtree's plans and deals to build a 'village' at the heart of the Festival Gardens is detailed and complicated. Our Ground can only offer a brief glimpse of this unfolding story and of the City Council's support for plans to build 1,308 compact dwellings on stilts on top of an unregulated landfill site plus 66 luxury 'townhouses' in a row of 7 finger-blocks (up to 8 stories high) along and over the public open green space of Otterspool Promenade - including public land the Council has agreed to give to Langtree. If the City of Liverpool had any policy for building sustainable family homes then there may have been a different outcome for permissions to build these 936 - 2 bed and 372 - 1 bed apartments.

The reason for Liverpool's rush of enthusiasm to support Langtree's Festival Gardens development is because for many years the Council have regarded the site as an eye-sore on the southern gateway to the city. The Festival site also represents an embarrassing badly drawn out land lease agreement - where the site owner's lack of maintenance and dereliction of responsibility could not be legally challenged by the freeholder Liverpool City Council.
4 February


Festival Gardens, Liverpool 2006 & 2007
click here to see this view in 1984 - from the BBC

see previous Our Ground updates on the Festival Gardens since 2007

Riverside Drive residents view of the Festival Gardens

Langtree group plc - Festival Gardens

The Land Trust - Festival Gardens

plan for Langtree's Finger Blocks PDF


'Big Society' Localism Act made law in November 2011

This radically new Localism Act will change the way local planning authorities can operate and establishes powerful new rights for local people and communities to hold their local authorities to account. It's early days yet and how this Act will work in practice remains to be seen.

The Bill will enable regional planning to be swept away and in its place neighbourhood plans will become the new building blocks of the planning system where communities have the power to grant planning permission if a local majority are in favour.

Effectively this act was born out of the European Landscape Convention - signed up to by the last Labour government in 2008. Our Ground welcomes the benefits of these new rights to local communities in helping to protect and shape their public open spaces.

Wikipedia on Localism Act 2011 local government news & published Localism Bill


Land Trust call for land-owning organisations to help Big Society

The Land Trust believe communities across the country are crying out for more public green spaces that can act as an outdoor escape, improving the neighbourhood's well-being and boosting the local economy. The Land Trust is urging organisations to make their non-core land available to local communities by creating open public spaces that can be enjoyed by all, whilst increasing profitability for the landowner. Through this scheme the Trust is utilising the benefits of the Localism Act. click here for more Land Trust details

The Trust supports last October's parliamentary report calling for non-core Government land to be developed for the greater good of a Big Society but stresses its recommendations must go further so that land must be transferred with the means to sustain long term development and so that local communities can benefit from the regeneration of sites. more on this Land Trust item


They giveth and they taketh away

In Britain local planning authorities can sell-off the public land we collectively own and are only required to publicise these disposals by placing a small advertisement in a local newspaper. There is currently no centralised resource of freely available information regarding the disposal, sale and privatisation of public open space. It is incredible that notices are not required to be placed in or by the actual public open spaces to be privatised.

If regular users of these spaces were informed of proposed disposals they would be able to act on the potential loss of their right to use public land. By the time the public is aware that public open space is to be commercially developed it is often too late to effectively object as lawful planning permission has already been consented. Hopefully the new Localism Act may be seen as a way of correcting these faults in the planning system.

Most all privatisation schemes attract little interest in the press and media as public open space and park land gradually disappear over extended periods of time or usage changes in subtle ways. In rare circumstances a planning application is 'called in' for a Public or Local Enquiry but these are often balanced in favour of the commercial developer who have the financial resources to employ skilled legal expertise in these matters.

During 2010 different central government departments had 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.


click on image to see views of Chavasse Park from 2004 to 2008


The catalyst for the Our Ground project was the privatisation of the public open space of Chavasse Park and 34 adjoining streets for the 'Liverpool One' extensive retail and mixed use development. The developer, Grosvenor Estates, effectively owning 42.5 acres of central Liverpool with a 250 year lease.


Ground Control

As part of this project in 2009 Our Ground worked with the writer Anna Minton and provided pictures for her Penguin book Ground Control about regeneration, security and the privatisation of public space. Read her pdf What kind of world are we building? The Privatisation Of Public Space.

Add news and information to this site

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

all photographs © John Davies 2007 - 2012

to top of this page



for latest news page click here

news on this page

Forest Estate - final report

Festival Gardens opening 23 June

Survey for private public space

Forest Estate - Privatisation

Festival Garden background

Neighbourhood Parks cuts

New - Port Sunlight River Park

Occupy Liverpool & London

'Big Society' Localism Act

Land Trust call for land

They giveth...

Dixie Dene Playing Fields

2011 news

Our Ground at the Bluecoat art gallery

Garden Festival Site update

English Forests and Woodlands privatisation

Priory Wood

Langtree's finger-blocks
on Otterspool Promenade

2010 news

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

Sefton Park Lake

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

Otterspool Park

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

Stadium site - 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

Otterspool Promenade