Restoration of Liverpool’s Festival Gardens about to begin!

Date: 15th February 2010

The £3.7m restoration of Liverpool’s International Garden Festival site is finally set to begin almost 26 years after the event first opened to the public.

Over the past few years, the landowner – property investment and development company Langtree – has pieced together a partnership of organisations which will fund, oversee, deliver and provide for the future management of the formal gardens and return them to public use.

The works, funded by a £3.7m grant from the North West Development Agency, represents a major step in the regeneration of the site into an outstanding riverside residential community and waterfront park.

The scheme has been designed by urban designers and landscape architects Planit who have also been involved in the restoration of Stanley Park in Liverpool.

The work is expected to take 12 months and Langtree hopes to encourage local community groups to be fully engaged in restoring the gardens to their original splendour.

Key to the success of the scheme was providing suitable long-term management of the new park and Langtree is delighted that they have been able to attract the Land Restoration Trust into the Partnership, a national not-for-profit organisation specifically established to own and manage large scale public park assets, who will assume responsibility for the gardens on completion.

Key aspects of the garden’s restoration include:

  • The restoration of two pagodas in the oriental gardens
  • Restoration of the Moon Wall
  • Restoration of lakes and waterways
  • A new pedestrian access point created links the promenade
  • New secure car parking and public transport facilities
  • Ongoing management of the gardens

The restoration works will begin with the clearance of undergrowth which has left many original pathways buried and un-passable.  Pedestrian routes will be widened and reappointed to ensure they meet modern standards.

Langtree managing director John Downes said: “All the Partners in the scheme, Liverpool City Council, the Land Restoration Trust, the North West Development Agency and the local community deserve enormous credit for their involvement in finally making this scheme a reality, but in many ways the real work starts here.  The creation of the park and the new residential community will finally deliver a long term sustainable scheme for this strategic site on a major gateway in to the City.”

Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the NWDA, said: “The start of work to restore the international garden festival site is a significant step forward in spearheading the regeneration of this area of Liverpool and creating the conditions for significant future private sector investment on the adjacent site. I am delighted that the Agency’s £3.7 million investment will help to bring this site back to life, creating a visitor attraction of international significance that will further boost the city-region’s growing visitor economy, as well as providing a important leisure resource that will enhance quality of life for local residents.

 “Today’s milestone is the culmination of strong partnership working between the Agency, Langtree, the Land Restoration Trust and Liverpool City Council to bring this restoration to fruition and secure the long-term future of this important site for many generations to come.”
Land Restoration Trust chief executive Euan Hall said: “Once completed, the new park will be a magnificent asset for the local community. However the most important thing about the restoration is that this time we will be able to ensure that the park can be managed for the benefit of the local community not just now but for many future generations.”

Leader of Liverpool City Council Councillor Warren Bradley said: “This is a milestone in a key site for the city and many people have been looking forward to the restoration of these gardens. This is an area which should be a real asset to the city and one we should be proud of, so we are delighted this work is starting.”

The International Garden Festive took place between May and October in 1984 and attracted 3.8 million visitors.

The festival was the centrepiece of the city’s early regeneration efforts following industrial decline in the preceding decade.  Much of the original site was developed into residential housing once the festival had ended but a long-term use for a large section of the site was never identified despite a number of attempts.

It is anticipated that the Festival Gardens will open to the public in Spring 2011.

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