Festival Gardens site Liverpool 2007 & 2017

How Liverpool City Council repeats the mistakes of ten years ago in its plans for the former Garden Festival site, a prime River Mersey side location three miles south of the iconic Pier Head. An excess of flats are planned for the Liverpool river side Festival Gardens site by the Labour Mayor & Council and its development partners, the same mistake that the Council was proposing in 2007 under Liberal Democrat control. The site is a brownfield former landfill site that was famous as the location of the Liverpool International Garden Festival in 1984, one of the initiatives supported by Conservative Minister, Michael Heseltine, that started to stop the decline in the Liverpool City Region. In fact Mayor Anderson and the Council are wanting to cram even more properties onto the site – 2500 as reported by Your Move magazine instead of the 1400 nearly all flats I object to in 2007. My objection in 2007 is set out in the attached submission to the City Council’s then ‘Executive Board’ (Cabinet) and article / report which detailed my reasons for objecting. The reasons are the same now as then – Liverpool needs a variety of housing stock to encourage a varied population, and that must include houses rather than just cramming in apartments in nearly every available space. Houses should be family sized houses as well, not just one or two bed town houses. This will help ensure there is space for growing families as well as a growing population.

My objection to flats is linked to the student housing bubble. In Liverpool, and every town and city with any University, no matter how new, the apartments complexes of purpose built student complexes have been thrown up over the last ten to fifteen years at an ever increasing rate. In Liverpool new apartment developments seem to be mostly student complexes. I also believe that the student numbers boom is a bubble that will burst at some point, and therefore many student apartments will be left empty. Re-purposing of those will be needed, as well as investment to help areas thrive and support families moving into vacated student houses. Though after more than ten years of making the prediction that the student numbers bubble in the UK (and everywhere else in the world) must burst it hasn’t looked at all like happening yet. Specifically as to Festival Gardens. More apartments will not necessarily help sustainability of the city’s housing but will help keep prices artificially high because of investors and speculators. Whatever happens with the site, I am sure that the former Garden Festival site, now Festival Gardens, will be a wonderful new city district in the future, and all those who have helped look after the site over the last thirty years will deserve some of the credit.

Liverpool City Council’s Festival Park masterplan can be found on the City Council website.
My background information for this post has included articles in Your Move magazine online, the City Region’s premier property and lifestyle magazine, and reports from the St. Michael’s ward Green Party councillors, who represent the effected area and have raised objections to the scale of the plans and implications.

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