Smit called on to champion festival project

The founder of the Eden Project has been called on to champion a Liverpool garden.

The landscape architect in charge of redeveloping Liverpool’s garden festival site has called for Eden Project founder Tim Smit to champion its revival. Planit EDC director Pete Swift said the festival site needs a non-political champion, such as Smit, architect Terry Farrell or grower Robert Hillier. Developer Langtree McLean is working with the Land Restoration Trust (LRT) and Liverpool City Council on a mixed-use plan for the 36ha derelict space, to be implemented ahead of Liverpool becoming Capital of Culture in 2008. This will enable residential redevelopment of the festival hall part of the site, providing £4.8m for restoration of the festival gardens and an endowment of £2m for its future management. LRT policy director David Evans said it is important the design is a long-term one. Langtree and Planit are close to submitting designs for planning application approval. * Lord Heseltine, who founded the festival in 1984, launched the Cities Task Force last week after being appointed its head by Conservative leader David Cameron. It will promote regeneration in the UK’s cities, where the former environment minister pioneered City Challenge projects, including garden festivals, in the 1980s. The taskforce will contribute ideas on large capital urban regeneration projects to the Conservative policy review. Heseltine said the success of garden festivals meant the urban policy behind them was “so well understood, I don’t think they are necessary now. But that does not preclude greening. You can green and create amenity value without the festivals. It’s all part of the same approach.” “People said ‘you can’t destroy it, it’s too good. That was a mistake’. I would have been keen to use this area of reclaimed land before for job creation or maybe parkland,” he added. Liverpool International Garden Festival attracted 3.6 million visitors in 1984. This month’s National Audit Office report, Enhancing Urban Green Space (HW, 9 March), said a repeat of the post-1984 decline of the site needs to be avoided.

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