Key milestones set out for Mersey waterfront development

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Liverpool City Council has set out a timetable to transform a former landfill site that once formed part of the International Garden Festival celebrations in 1984 into a ‘green community.

A report to the city council’s cabinet next Friday (6 December) outlines a programme of activity which could lead to the building of almost 1,500 ‘eco-friendly homes’ along prime waterfront land on the southern shoreline of the River Mersey.

The report identifies four major stepping stones for a comprehensive regeneration of the 28 acre site, which has lain dormant for more than 20 years:

• Submit planning application for remediation of the Development Zone (see note below on zones) 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 city council’s intention is to facilitate site remediation and ground infrastructure works and then sell the land for the delivery of new homes to create the green community, which 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, are 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 £9.9m boost from Homes England which will kick start the essential remediation work on the site, with the city council 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.

Arup have been appointed by Liverpool City Council to produce and submit the remediation planning application, which will encompass a comprehensive excavation, processing and reuse strategy of the top 4-6 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.

The Liverpool 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. It is also a pre-requisite of the Environment Agency, so that the site qualifies as a pilot project to demonstrate an innovative approach to waste processing and protecting groundwater.

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, said: “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.

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, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “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.”

Steve Parry of IMGF Developments Ltd, said: “The Development Zone sits within close proximity of the legacy of The International Garden Festival. 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 Liverpool City Council purchased 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.