A multi-million pound plan to radically transform Liverpool’s famous Festival Gardens site into a new “waterfront neighbourhood” is set to take a step closer this week.
A report to Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet on Friday, 12th October is recommending the authority appoint specialist contractors to develop a remediation strategy and draft a planning application to prepare the site for an estimated 1,500 properties on the 28 acre Development Zone.
The report also outlines a new maintenance budget for the 25 acre gardens area of the site, which originally hosted the International Garden Festival in 1984, and that the council enter into an exclusivity agreement with developers ION and Midia to develop a detailed masterplan for the development zone including residential, funding, public consultation and highways strategies.
The city council has also entered into an exclusivity agreement with Heritage Great Britain to refine a leisure development business case and conduct soft market investor testing and is also considering other proposals which would complement the wider leisure destination offer.
The city council, which took control of the site in 2015, has been working with Department of Trade & Industry on developing the site and the project now forms part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Portfolio.
It will be promoted for investment on a European and international scale, most notably at this month’s major property conference MIPIM UK and at MIPIM Cannes in March 2019.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Festival Gardens has the potential to be a huge game changer for this city’s economy.
“I’m encouraged by the work to date and the proposals Heritage Great Britain are developing for a major leisure attraction and we will soon be in a position to share these with the public.
“There is much work to be done but these site surveys and strategies will provide us with a roadmap to making this vision a reality over the coming decade.”
On cabinet approval Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd/Arup will be appointed to design to produce a remediation strategy for the 28-acre Development Zone, informed by the site investigations across the 90 acre site.
The strategy and permission will inform the residential and leisure development proposals, with current outline planning consent for a 1,380 unit residential development valid until December 2022.
The investigations will also establish whether unsuitable waste from the remediation of the development zone and the gardens could be redistributed or will need to be removed from the site. WDC/Arup are close to completing the non-intrusive site surveys (topographical, utilities and ecology) and the council will analyse the results on receipt.
The new, enhanced maintenance regime will also include a deep clean/repair and more formal landscape management of the gardens on a bi-monthly basis to tie in with the school holidays when the gardens are more intensively used.
The Festival Gardens Site is split into three distinct zones:
• Development Zone – 28 acres of fenced-off land with no public access, containing the remains of Festival Gardens dome and plaza, and notable landscaped waterfront bund.
• The Gardens – 25 acres of formal Chinese and Japanese Gardens
• Southern Grasslands – 37 acres of derelict former Festival Gardens land.