Liverpool festival site revamp to go ahead

A 27ha waterfront park planned as part of the £250m regeneration of a derelict site in Liverpool has been given the green light following a public inquiry.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears has this month given the go-ahead to plans to redevelop Liverpool's Garden Festival site.

According to landscape and urban design firm Planit-ie managing director Peter Swift, the new waterfront park at Otterspool will celebrate the relationship between the River Mersey and the city.

He added: "The park will repair a fracture in the urban fabric and seek to reunite the local community with the River Mersey, acting as a unique urban ecosystem, with the focus on habitat and biodiversity."

The site, which covers a total of 40ha, was originally used primarily as landfill for industrial, commercial and household waste but was decontaminated to allow for the International Garden Festival to take place.

The festival ran for five months in 1984 and hosted 60 individual gardens, a festival hall, public pavilions and a miniature railway which toured the site.

Since the festival, the land has been neglected and the aim is to improve the area, as well as restoring the site's oriental gardens.

In addition to the park, there will also be a mixed-use development designed by Carey Jones Architects, which is to include 1,300 homes.

Green spaces are planned within the new development, along with the creation of an elevated walkway called the Grand Axis, which will sit within the tree canopy.

The park is to be managed by the Land Restoration Trust upon its completion.

A design review by CABE last year criticised the proposal from developer Langtree McLean for having a lack of clear vision but applauded the client, design team and local authority for tackling the challenging project to regenerate the site. It stated: "This park needs to perform a clear role and offer potential users something different and special."

Land Restoration Trust community engagement and policy director David Evans spoke at the public inquiry and told HW the ambition was to create a legacy for the Garden Festival. "It is a chance to demonstrate private sector investment will enable something that hasn't been achieved since the Garden Festival closed," he added.

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