Liverpool sets out plans for major residential development on former Festival Garden site

OVER 1,000 eco-friendly homes could be built on the banks of the river Mersey as part of a major regeneration scheme to be considered by Liverpool Council this week.

Members of the cabinet are set to hear a report on Friday setting out a programme to transform a waterfront site that once formed part of the city’s International Garden Festival celebrations in 1984.

The 28-acre site, once used for landfill, on the river’s southern shoreline has been disused for over 20 years, but the report proposes the construction of nearly 1,500 green homes.

The report identifies four major stepping stones for what is said would be a comprehensive regeneration of the site:

  • Submit planning application for remediation of the Development Zone in December 2019
  • Accept grant funding from Homes England
  • Apply for funding from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to fund remediation and infrastructure works
  • Negotiate and complete legal agreements with IMGF Developments Ltd, to pave the way for a residential planning application for 1,500 homes by Summer 2020

The council says it intends to facilitate site remediation and ground infrastructure works, and then sell the land on for the delivery of new homes to create the so-called green community. This would include extended parkland and an upgrade to the adjacent Festival Gardens.

IMGF Developments Ltd, a joint venture between ION Developments Limited and Midia Group, is producing a full residential masterplan and will work closely with the city council on a consultation programme with the neighbouring communities.

The site has attracted a £9.9 million boost from Homes England, which the council says will kick start the essential remediation work on the site, with the city authority seeking additional support from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to complete the works.

It is anticipated that, pending planning permissions, the first homes could be available by 2022.

The cabinet report is also seeking authority to procure experts to oversee the remediation strategy, the treatment of the soil and waste, and a contract for the management of the ground gas management system.

“The derelict site situated to the west of Festival Gardens presents a huge opportunity to create a new community that would be truly transformational for housing in Liverpool, generating millions of pounds every year in council tax revenue,” said city mayor, Joe Anderson.

“A huge amount of work has gone into understanding how this former landfill site and barren wasteland can be transformed and we are now at a very exciting stage of asking for approval to prepare the site in readiness for what could be one of the UK’s best eco-friendly housing developments.

“We have come a long way in a very short space of time since the city council bought the land back and the vision of creating a new community in South Liverpool at an iconic destination is now another step closer.”

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region’s metro mayor, added: “We have long supported plans to help return the Garden Festival site to its former glory and we are working hard with Homes England and Liverpool City Council to make things happen.

“If we are to respond to the national housing crisis, we desperately need to build new homes and utilising previously developed, brownfield sites such as this is not only the most environmentally sustainable approach but will also help us protect vital green spaces.

“We’re currently working with the city council for Strategic Investment Funding to support remediation of the site and create the necessary infrastructure for development. This will then be considered for approval by the combined authority.”

The city council has appointed Arup to produce and submit the remediation planning application. This will include a comprehensive excavation, processing and reuse strategy of the top four to six metre layer of material across the development zone. This will provide a “comprehensive, industry tested and supported method to create a platform for future residential development”.

Meanwhile, the city region combined authority has agreed to contribute up to £150,000 towards the total cost of a pre-remediation material processing trial of 1,000 cubic meters, which will assist in reducing the remediation programme.

This is also by the Environment Agency, so that the site qualifies as a pilot project to demonstrate an innovative approach to waste processing and protecting groundwater.

“The development zone sits within close proximity of the legacy of The International Garden Festival,” said Steve Parry, of IMGF Developments. “We are looking to transform what is currently a brownfield, former municipal tip into one of the greenest communities in the North, incorporating newly created parkland that will expand the existing Festival Gardens.”

The Liverpool Festival Gardens site, which the city council bought in 2015, is split into three distinct zones:

  • Development Zone – 28 acres incorporating the former ‘Pleasure Island’ dome, plaza, and waterfront bund
  • The Gardens – 25 acres of Oriental Gardens set around a sizeable landscaped mound with large surface car park remaining from Festival Gardens
  • Southern Grasslands – 37 acres of former Festival Gardens land that has self-seeded



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