Expansion plans for miniature railway

A planning application has been submitted which would see a popular Liverpool family attraction relocate to a new base inside Calderstones Park.

Volunteers from the Merseyside Live Steam and Model Engineers club have been running the miniature railway for around 75 years and offer free rides to children most Sunday afternoons.

Now, its proposed relocation from an area off Harthill Road to a central position within the park itself will allow more families the opportunity to enjoy a ride on one of two battery electric locomotives.

A move would also see the Merseyside Live Steam and Model Engineers club gain a significantly improved track and brand new clubhouse facilities.

The club has applied for planning permission to re-site the miniature railway in part of Calderstones Park currently used for informal recreation and lying adjacent to an area that was previously used for the International Tennis Tournament. Members of the club agreed to support the move at their annual general meeting in November.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Ann O’Byrne said: “The Miniature Railway is a much-loved facility which has been used by generations of local families. This proposal would see it moved to a more prominent location giving them improved and enhanced facilities and enabling even more people to enjoy it in the future.”

Club chairman Arthur Brooks said: “Our current facility is restrictive in its size and access, limiting the size of the engines we can use and visitors to the club. By relocating to an enhanced facility in the park itself this will increase the visibility of the club, encouraging more visitors whilst also permitting the club to run larger engines on the new improved track. The proposed new clubhouse facilities are welcomed by the club.

“The new layout of both tracks with larger radii will greatly increase the safety factor and, with the proposed new clubhouse facilities, it will make it more suitable for the disabled and people with walking problems to have full access.”

Subject to planning permission it’s hoped that the club and the miniature railway will be relocated by the end of 2017. For now, the club will continue to operate on a Sunday at 2pm, weather permitting, but will be looking to increase the hours of operation once the miniature railway is established in its new location and interest in the club grows.

The proposed move is linked to wider plans to redevelop several parcels of land off Harthill Road to create 51 new homes under the umbrella of the Liverpool Housing Partnership.

Relocating the popular miniature railway is the first element in a scheme that would also see Beechley Riding Stables – part of the Riding for the Disabled Association – receive help to relocate and develop new, improved facilities at Clarke Gardens, in Allerton; while the CalderKids Adventure Playground, whose existing premises have already been deemed unfit for purpose, will be able to fulfil relocation plans to much better facilities. Relocation of the riding stables is currently the subject of a feasibility study by the City Council, while an appropriate venue has been identified for Calderkids and discussions with the landowner are ongoing.

With the miniature railway, Beechley Riding Stables and CalderKids relocated, the land they currently occupy could be redeveloped for a total of 51 new homes, associated landscaping and public open space, under plans put forward by Redrow Homes.

Those plans, already submitted to the council, include sensitive restoration of the Grade II listed Beechley House to create six apartments and two duplex units, with its summerhouse converted to one self-contained property. The stables would be converted into three mews properties and there would be four new-build mews adjacent to Beechley House. Thirty five brand new detached family homes would make up the remainder.

The wider scheme is being put forward under the umbrella of the Liverpool Housing Partnership – a collaboration between Liverpool City Council, Redrow Homes and Liverpool Mutual Homes to provide 1,500 new homes across the city over a five year period. Capital receipts to the Council from the sale of the land would support the relocation of the stakeholders, as well as off-site affordable housing and a fund for improvements within Calderstones Park itself.

The application will be considered by the planning committee in due course.