Garden jewel is sparkling again

Date: 21st June 2011

Publication: St Helens Star

A ST Helens developer has been the driving force behind the 3.7m restoration of Liverpool's Festival Gardens site.

The city's lost jewel is ready to reopen its doors this summer;after Langtree completed the first phase of its regeneration of what was a barren 90-acre site.

Langtree, which has headquarters in Newton-Le-Willows, has restored the former gardens, creating four new bridges and 2km of pathways.

It has also planted more than five million wildflower seeds, and pumped 5.25 million litres of water into the new features at the gardens.

Around 5,000 decorative pagoda roof tiles, sourced form China, have also been used.

Leading Japanese landscape architect Satoru Izawa was flown in, especially to support the restoration of one of the site's original features, the Japanese Garden which stands alongside the Oriental Garden.

Originally conceived as the centerpeice of Liverpool's early regeneration efforts, the site was home to the International Garden Festival for five months in 1984.

A series of failed ownership changes, however, saw it fall into significant disrepair during the following 27 years.

After a lengthy planning and consultation process, Langtree - the company that is also spearheading the creation of a new Saints Stadium and Tesco superstore at Peasley Cross - began works to restore the gardens early last year, with support from the Northwest development agency.

Long-term management of the gardens, which will be open to the public, will be delivered by the Land Trust, working in association, with Groundwork Merseyside.

The second phase of the project will see Langtree work with residential developers to create 1,374 new homes on the area of the former festival hall dome.

John Downes, managing director at Langtree, said: "We believe that we are about to create one of the most exciting residential schemes in the country, set within a fantastic new contemporary park, taking design cues from great European examples."