New shoots revealed at Garden Festival site

Plans for cultural suburb on waterfront go public

Written by  Larry Neild | Follow @larryneild | Tuesday, 29 November 2016 14:07
 

IT'S an overgrown wilderness with a dilapidated dragon standing guard, but the International Garden Festival site at Otterspool promised great things in the post-Toxteth riot years.

It wowed the Queen and three million visitors when it opened in 1984.

But three decades later, the only remaining evidence is bite-sized version, open to the public.

The great things just never happened.

Now, perhaps better late than never, the future of the 90 acres of waterfront land is to take a major step forward.

The public are this week being invited to give their views on plans for a “cultural garden suburb” and major waterfront destination. The idea was first mooted in March 2015 with talk of an open air stage and parkland.

Read: Garden Festival site to become 'world class culture destination'

A  four week public consultation will be launched on November 30 by Liverpool City Council which took control of the site last year, with the feedback to be used as a guide to an outline planning application in 2017.

The development of the 90 acre site will focus on the northern and central parts with a remodelled waterfront.

Surveys are being undertaken to assess ground conditions with the intention to revitalise the gardens and southern grasslands as public amenity space with opportunities for sport and recreation.

Read: Detox of Otterspool landfill could cost £6m

The draft masterplan also sets out to enhance connections with the surrounding community, including a safer pedestrian route to Priory Wood and St Michaels train station.

The IGF was Britain’s first national festival of its kind, spearheaded by Michael Heseltine to give the city a bit of a boost following the 1981 riots and to reverse the city's "managed decline".

A leisure terrace at the Otterspool siteA leisure terrace at the Otterspool site

A vast waterfront landfill was, within a matter of months, transformed into gardens from different parts of the world with a huge dome at the centre.

Afterwards, several attempts were made to keep the site open, including theme park Pleasure Island, but none survived.

A current outline planning consent for a 1,380-home residential development on part of the site is valid until December 2022. Developers Langtree had aimed to build the homes, but the site was eventually handed back to Mayor Anderson.

Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: ‘’This masterplan is a comprehensive approach to regenerating the wider Festival Gardens site with greater benefits for the local community. This will be a long-term process to carefully develop what is a hugely important site to the city and its residents.’’ 

Two public consultation events will be held on:

•         Wednesday, 30 November, 10-6, at Sefton Park Library, Aigburth Rd, L17 4JS

•         Wednesday, 7 December, 10-6, at Liverpool Town Hall