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Liverpool’s Green & Open Spaces
Report and the Local Plan
Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan will become available
for the Council’s Cabinet meeting on 19 August 2016. The Green &
Open Space Review Board’s Final Report is due to be published on
Liverpool is one of the few local authorities to commission a major strategic
review of green and open spaces for the city. This mayoral commission
was established at the end of 2014, in part, reacting to the high profile
and vocal campaigns of local people to save Sefton Park Meadows, Walton
Hall Park and Woolton Woods. However, during the first consultation for
Liverpool’s Local Plan a number of house builders also recommended
a review of the city’s green space and green wedge land –
to encourage the city to provide a planning policy structure to identify
the best green spaces to exploit for development.
The Green & Open Spaces Review Board’s research was carried
out to inform and feed into the city’s Local Plan. Liverpool’s
Local Plan will set out the city’s planning and cultural policy
for the next 15 years or more. Central government have set a deadline
for all local authorities to finalise their Local Plans by March 2017
and the period for public consultation is limited to six weeks.
Liverpool’s existing Unitary Development Plan (UDP) policy will
be replaced by Liverpool’s Local Plan once government inspectors
approve and finalise it.
The formulation of the Local Plan comes at a time when central government
cuts are severely biting into the City Council’s budget. Without
any statuary obligation to fund parks and greenspace the Council predict
that by 2017 there will be no money to maintain these public green spaces.
This period also coincides with the government’s push for local
authorities to provide more houses.
Housing developers are keen to exploit this situation and are persuading
the city to part with historic parkland for housing schemes. Redrow Homes
North West is the Council’s preferred developer and they favour
building on previously undeveloped green spaces. In recent years Redrow
have acquired from the city five former school playing fields and designated
green space for housing schemes. Redrow now have their sights on the highly
profitable areas of green space located in the leafy suburbs of south
Liverpool for ‘executive’ homes – particularly public
parkland such as Sefton Park Meadows and the recreational land of the
Harthill Estate at Calderstones Park.
Redrow recently submitted an outline
application for up to 160 dwellings for land at Allerton Priory by Woolton
Road. This privately owned land is part of Liverpool’s Green
Wedge that should be protected according to the city’s existing
Once the draft Local Plan is available to the public,
after the Council’s Cabinet meeting on the 19 August, it will be
vital to make sure that it contains protection for our parks and green
open spaces and that as many people as possible make this message clear
through the public consultation process.
The period for public consultation for the Draft Local Plan is 6 weeks
(with a deadline estimated to be mid September 2016).
Sefton Park Meadows - the Meadow Fields dissected by Park Avenue at the
entrance to Queens Drive.
The Future of Public Parks and Open Spaces
– Government Inquiry Launch
The Communities and Local Government Committee has launched
an inquiry into the Future of Public Parks. The inquiry will examine the
impact of reduced local authority budgets on public open spaces and consider
concerns that their existence is under threat.
This inquiry has a national significance. It has the potential to influence
Government policy makers to set guidelines for all local authorities.
The Commons Select Committee wants to encourage as many people as possible
to contribute to the inquiry and must receive written submissions by 30
September 2016. For more details see Communities
and Local Government Public Parks launch web site.
Sefton Park Meadows - Freedom of Information
A recent FOI request has revealed correspondence in internal emails
between Liverpool City Council and Redrow from the end of 2014 to 30 March
2016 about the ongoing negotiations over the sale of Sefton Park Meadows
see the Campaign
to Save Sefton Park Meadows web site for more details about the 'Damning
Secret Negotiations Revealed with Redrow Homes'.
The FOI reveals that Redrow offered £4m (including all Council costs)
for the green open space land of Sefton Park Meadows. This figure differs
greatly from the £10m promised by the Mayor of Liverpool 3 years
ago. At the end of March 2016 no independent land valuation had been established.
It appears the Mayor had plucked a figure out of the air when he announced
£10m for the sale of the Meadowlands - largely to impress the media
In its press release the Campaign to Save Sefton Park Meadows notes discussions
at the highest Council level over the Mayor’s outspoken intervention
into the quasi-judicial planning process along with comments to ‘tone
it down’ to avoid adverse public reaction.
The Campaign to Save Sefton Park Meadows has stated:
‘We demand to know exactly where the proposed sale is up to.
Transparency and accountability should be paramount in all Council matters,
especially in the matter of the proposed sale of Sefton Park Meadows which
has such a high level of public interest’.
The FOI documents can be found here:
2004 English Heritage Map of Grade II* listed Sefton Park.
Liverpool City Council’s 2005 ‘Park Strategy for Liverpool’
contains maps clearly showing Sefton Park Meadows as being an integral
part of Sefton Park. The Mayor of Liverpool has continued to insist that
the Meadows have never been part of Sefton Park. The Meadows were also
incorrectly described by a Council disposal notice in March 2013 as ‘incidental’
space off Park Avenue.
Football pitch developments - from green
The green field sites of Heron Eccles, the Simpsons Ground
and Jericho Lane Playing Fields may radically change in nature and character
with a package of 3G artificial football pitches and buildings recently
announced by the Mayor. These substantial schemes will effectively change
these green field sites into brownfield privately run commercial developments.
Two planning applications are registered and comments can be made up until
16 June from these links: (no.16F/1049)
for the Simpsons Ground, off Hillfoot Road and (no.16F/1050)
Jericho Lane Playing Fields, near Otterspool Park. The substantial
impact in each of the plans are for 3 full sized artificial grass football
pitches built with associated changing rooms, floodlighting, perimeter
fencing and hard standing with extended car parks to provide 200+ spaces
and to install new perimeter railings/gates. It is proposed that the Jericho
Lane Playing Fields will have an additional health and fitness facility.
If these plans are approved it will involve a Council loan of £4.4m
from the Football Association. Details of these 3G commercial development
schemes can be found here: Mayoral
Recommendation details for the 3G pitches
Civic Society's recommendations for Parks
& Green Space
Merseyside Civic Society (MCS) has recently released it's
five recommendations for Liverpool's Parks and Green Space Review Team
which also criticised Liverpool's Head of Planning.
The pdf detailing the 'Planning context and background to MCS Five Recommendations'
can be downloaded here.
The 2015 report details the following points:
1. Differentiate between historic parkland and grassed-over demolition
2. Measure the number of park users to enable impacts to be better understood
3. Identify providers with public funding that benefit from parks and
should contribute more
4. Smart management and maintenance
5. Linking up Liverpool’s Parks and Promenades in a Green Web.
In the report MCS said it was disturbed to hear Liverpool’s Head
of Planning publicly make the case that protections on green space, and
prioritising the recycling of brownfield land, ‘do not work’.
MCS stated 'this is wrong, and risks undermining the turnaround in population
only recently achieved, by encouraging those who argue for purely market
led land allocation. Wider green-belt protections, alongside brownfield
first targets, have supported urban renaissance in all of the core cities
and would be folly to discard'.
MCS also states that 'Parkland in Walton Hall, Newsham Park, Sefton Park
Meadow and Calderstones, etc. has been managed and used as such throughout
the last century and beyond. Areas with such long established recreational
use should never have been proposed for development by officers or approved
by politicians in the Local Plan ‘call for sites’.
The Strategic Green and Open Spaces Review Board's
final report is due to be published once the Mayor has approved it's release.
A section of Walton Hall Park's perimeter footpath
Reprieve for Walton Hall Park
Good news for campaigners to save Walton Hall Park - in
a joint statement from Liverpool City Council and Everton Football Club
it was announced that plans to build a new stadium in the park has been
abandoned. It was also reported "that effectively building a new
village in North Liverpool with lots of retail space is a step too far
in this current economic climate."
However, these recent announcements fall short of a clear statement about
the scheme to build a 1000 houses over a section of Walton Hall Park's
130 acre grounds.
News reports to cancel plans for a new stadium on Walton Hall Park were
announced in the Liverpool Echo on 16 May from the following links: 'Campaigners
Celebrate' and 'Mayor
says Everton will have new stadium in 3 years'
of Walton Hall Park have been campaigning to save their park
since September 2014 when Everton Football Club confirmed they wanted
to build a new football stadium over the Park. The expectation to acquire
this historic and popular park is made possible by the support of Mayor
Anderson and his powerful rule over the Labour-led Council. This park
is the only public green space in a densely populated area.
The origins of Walton Hall Park date back to 1199. Will English Heritage
and it's recently formed planning arm of Historic
England give it's blessing for the sale of any part of Walton Hall
Park - as it did for Grade II listed Stanley Park when up to half of this
historic park was sold to Liverpool FC?
Liverpool - Overall loss of 30 acres
of parkland and green space from 2012 to 2016
Is Joe Anderson being economical with the truth with claims
that he has created 67 acres of green space in Liverpool since he first
became Mayor in 2012? The facts reveal a different story - it is estimated
there has been a total net loss of at least 30 acres of green space in
Liverpool over the last 4 years.
Most of Anderson’s ‘new’ green space is an invention
and is creatively called 'renewed' green space made up of established
and existing designated green space - with some land brought back into
temporary use. This 'new' space is mostly from two sites next to one another
in north Liverpool. Some 21 acres of land around the altered channel of
the River Alt was re-named Alt Meadows Park and opened by the Mayor in
2015. Adjacent to this is a larger area of 26 acres where the River Alt
was moved to avoid flood risk - this green space is temporary and is advertised
for development. Both these sites were mostly designated green space before
Anderson was first elected Mayor.
One might think the narrow linear section surrounding the River Alt channel
in the new park would be protected from building schemes but already a
small housing development is being built on the southern most tip of the
site overlooking the river.
Another area of 'renewed' green space are the 5.6 acres of allotments
built over Park Hill Road Recreation Ground on the Dingle - a green space
that has been in public use for the last 25 years. These allotments are
being provided to compensate for the loss of 11.8 acres of allotments
in Fazakerley. In effect this is not a gain of green space but a loss
of 11.8 acres of green space. It is creative accounting to call these
new allotments new green space.
In the last 4 years numerous losses of green space have emerged - from
the recent development on Woolton Woods parkland to the numerous housing
schemes built over former school playing fields designated green space
as detailed below.
Anderson was recently re-elected Mayor for a second term - does this mean
he has a mandate to build over more green space than ever before?
More former school playing fields
dug up for housing
Many former school playing fields are in the process of
being purchased or developed for housing. The loss of school grounds,
mostly all designated green space, do not need to be publicly advertised
for disposal and therefore there is no public consultation over the loss
of this green space. Councils seek permission to decommission school sites
directly from the Secretary of State for Education.
In Liverpool at the beginning of 2016:
Redrow Homes are completing two substantial housing schemes over the former
14 acre New Hayes school site between Mather Avenue and Calderstones Park
with 119 homes.
Redrow have started to build on former Watergate School, opposite St.
Julies School in Woolton Village.
Redrow plan to build 22 houses on the former Ernest Cookson Special School,
on Mill Lane in West Derby.
Purchase proposals from Redrow have been submitted for the 6.5 acre site
once home to Redbridge and Bank View High Schools in Fazakerley. Redrow
were authorised to demolish the site last October to bring the project
forward by 6 months.
Redrow is starting to build 60 dwellings on the grounds of Holly Lodge
Girls' College in West Derby. Last December 2015, in spite of many local
objections, approval was given to demolish Holly Lodge House. The Grade
II listed Fremont and Sandheys buildings will be converted for homes.
The former Gateacre Community Comprehensive School on Grange Lane is being
developed by Countryside Properties for 200 dwellings with associated
landscaping and new access roads. The applicant Countryside Properties
has recently submitted new plans to vary some of the houses - comments
for these plans can be made to the planning officer up until 26 May 2016
Palmerston School will be declared surplus to requirements when the school
relocates in the spring of 2017 and planning for this site will commence
at the end of 2016.
There is little evidence in Liverpool to certify, under Section 77
of the School Standards and Framework Act (1998), that existing playing
fields are re-provided when schools are relocated.
Under a Central Government initiative, Liverpool was awarded a £169M
fund to build 12 new schools. Many of the completed new school playgrounds
are a fraction of the size of former playing fields.
Sefton Park Meadows
to Save Sefton Park Meadows is in its third year since this
parkland was incorrectly described by a Council disposal notice in March
2013 as ‘incidental’ space off Park Avenue. The campaign is
ready to act if and when Redrow Homes NW presents it’s application
to the planning committee to build executive homes over the entire 6.5
acres of this spectacular public green space.
For over three years there has been a great deal of public misinformation
and misleading assertions from the Mayor regarding the status, disposal
and so-called beneficial sale of the designated green space of Sefton
Park Meadows. The land is officially described in Council bye-law records
as the Meadow Fields of Sefton Park. During the late 19C when villa style
houses were being built around Sefton Park in 1887 Liverpool Corporation's
Council rejected any further plans to build over the Meadowlands of Sefton
more details on Sefton Park Meadows
Woolton Woods Park
The recent May elections saw a small but significant protest
vote against the Labour Party in Liverpool for their privatisation scheme
on Woolton Woods parkland. With two new Lib-Dem Councillors elected in
and next to the Woolton Woods development.
Further legal challenges to protect Woolton Woods appear to have evaporated
since this parkland was fenced off and contractors started work in April
2016. It was on 16 June 2015 when the Planning Committee approved extension
plans for St Julies School over Woolton Woods Park. In exchange for 5%
of popular parkland the school owners will offer the Council woodland
it does not maintain and can not use.
Sufficient land is available on the existing school footprint for the
St Julies school extension. However, the private school owners, the Sisters
of Notre Dame, want to hold onto 4.37 hectares of school land for a potential
residential land sale.
Woolton Woods 8 February 2015 - 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir
who in 1917 "gifted these two open fields to the people of Liverpool".
Calderstones Park - development land off Harthill Road
Liverpool at risk from surface water flooding
Liverpool is the 4th worst city at risk through surface
water flooding in England (not the River Mersey bursting it's banks).
These were the findings of a Flood Risk Assessment report given to
Liverpool’s Regeneration, Housing & Sustainability Select Committee
on 25th February 2016.
The many underground rivers flowing underneath Liverpool may contribute
to future flood risk. These underground streams feed into the many lakes
situated in Liverpool's parks which serve to reduce flood risk. Calderstones
Park, Greenbank Park, Sefton Park and Walton Hall Park all have lakes
served by underground streams.
The 'Lower Brook' rises near Edge Lane and flows underneath Toxteth Park
Cemetery before meeting the 'Upper Brook' in Sefton Park. The 'Upper Brook'
rose near Sandown in Wavertree and feeds into the lake at Greenbank Park
before reaching Sefton Park Lake. From Sefton Park the stream is known
as the River Jordan, guided by a culvert, it flows through Otterspool
to the River Mersey.
Greenfield sites were also identified as efficient drainage areas to reduce
flood risk and that many built hard surfaces in Liverpool were at risk
to surface flooding. The effects of Climate Change may also make Liverpool
more vulnerable to surface flooding.
The Council were informed that lakes in parks help to prevent flooding.
For example, the lake in Sefton Park is important to flood risk management
- whereas the former lake at Dovecot Park L14, after it was filled-in,
caused local flooding.
Open Space Study for Liverpool
As recommended by house builders, a mayoral strategic
green and open spaces review board was established at the
beginning of 2015 followed by public consultation meetings throughout
Liverpool seeking views on parks and open spaces. A Green and Open Spaces
interim report has been published and there were 3 further meetings in
January 2016 for the public to engage and provide feedback on the report.
Liverpool's Local Plan
will establish local planning rules and cultural guidelines for the next
15 years. The final conclusions of this Green and Open Spaces Report will
inform the Local Plan to help shape the greenspace infrastructure of Liverpool
and future allocations of green and open space for housing and other building
The final report is expected to be published soon - enquires about this
Review can be made by email to email@example.com
or call 0151 233 7045.
Land Trust Study demonstrates value
of green spaces to society
This recent study found that every pound invested in parks
and nature reserves contributes £30 towards health and well being
benefits and £23 towards crime reduction and community safety.
The national land management charity, the Land Trust, commissioned an
independent study by economic consultants, Carney Green to assess
the value of the green spaces in its portfolio. The study measured the
impact of Land Trust services to identify the value that people place
on their local green space as well as to estimate the financial value
it contributes to the health and social sectors.
Follow these links for more details:
Land Trust Study demonstrates value of green spaces to society
The Carney Green research for The Land Trust 'Perceptions
Survey and Social Value Study' pdf
In brief: Strategic Housing Development
November 2015 Cabinet meeting disclosed the first batch of about 580
new homes for the Strategic Housing Development Programme (SHDP) - said
to be updated in March 2016. This is part of a 5 year scheme to provide
1,500 newly constructed homes (many on school grounds & open space)
and a further 1,000 brought back into use.
Cuts to Local Authorities impact on
The Government’s cuts to Local Authorities for local
public services, combined with the lack of statutory protection for open
spaces, are causing real threats to urban greenspace. This is provoking
a growing number of local grass-roots campaigns throughout Britain as
local communities mobilise to defend spaces under threat of neglect, privatisation
At the same time the evidence continues to stack up on the vital and unique
role our parks and greenspaces play for health, biodiversity, flood control,
climate change mitigation, social cohesion and many other essential needs
of all sections of all our communities.
Parks and Playing Fields in Public Ownership
(Protection from Sale) Bill 2015-16
A cross-party group of MP's is supporting a Private
Members Bill (Bill 53 pdf) to strengthen protective measures
and to 'require public consultation to be carried out in local areas where
the sale of park or playing field land owned by a public body is proposed;
to require referendums on such proposals in certain circumstances; and
for connected purposes'. A record of the first
reading of Bill 53 at the House of Commons on 13 July 2015 can be read
from this link. The Bill, sponsored by Tom Pursglove MP,
is expected to have its second reading debate on 5 February 2016.
Following pressure from UK greenspace organisations, such as the National
Federation of Parks of Green Spaces, The
Parks Alliance and others, the previous outgoing government
administration recommended that the newly elected Government consider
hosting a National Inquiry into the future funding and management of our
Please sign and promote the UK ‘Save Our Parks’ petition to step
up the pressure on the Government and all political parties to take seriously
the future funding and protection of our vital green spaces.
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updated 1st August 2016 © Our
Ground 2007 - 2016
2016 Our Ground news on this page:
Our Ground aims to promote campaigns to save public green
space in Liverpool and beyond.
Losses of greenspace on Merseyside reflect the changes taking place throughout
Britain with public space disposed and sold for private developments.
We are witnessing the disappearance and erosion of our rights to freely
use public space for the health and benefit of all our communities.
Local authorities encouraged by successive UK governments have continued
to sell-off our parks, school playing fields, recreation grounds and public
rights of way in towns and cities throughout Britain.
Stanley Park land privatised
with sports centre demolished