Festival gardens homes plan cut by almost half

A plan by Liverpool City Council to build 1,500 homes on the former International Garden Festival is being drastically scaled back and could come down to 800 homes. Tony McDonough reports

Festival Gardens
Liverpool City Council is seeking a developer for the Festival Gardens site


Ambitious plans to build 1,500 homes on the former International Garden Festival site in south Liverpool are being drastically scaled back.

LBN has learned that Liverpool City Council now anticipates the number of new homes is unlikely to be more than 1,000 and could be as low as 800. This summer the authority intends to appoint a design team to put together a master plan.

Once this has been approved it will then go out to the market to seek a developer for the site next to the River Mersey, which has seen a number of false dawns.

It was back in 1984 when 3m people visited the International Garden Festival. It was also the same year the Tall Ships race came to the river for the first time.

Following the festival a new leisure venue opened up at the site close to Otterspool Promenade called Pleasure Island. It offers bowling, mini golf, a roller rink and arcade games.

However, this closed in 1997 and the site fell into dereliction until 2018 when the then Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, proposed an ambitious plan to build 2,500 new homes, 350,000 sq ft of leisure space and a new ferry terminal.

Development firm Ion came on board to produce a draft residential masterplan for the site. It had an exclusivity agreement with the council. However, this expired in March 2021 with not a home built. Remediation costs have soared from £45m to £60m.

In September 2022 the council announced it was intending to seek a new development partner for the project with the aim of starting work in 2025.


Joe Anderson
Former Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson wanted to see a new ferry terminal at the site


Speaking at that time, Cllr Sarah Doyle, Cabinet member for Development and Economy, said: “The site next to Festival Gardens is on prime waterfront land and presents one of the most exciting development opportunities in the UK.

“The city council is now at a critical stage in establishing how this site will progress. Given its strategic importance to our housing programme it is only right and proper that a major review of our approach was undertaken.

“Now that that review is complete a clear programme has been set out to shape its future direction. If approved, this procurement process will mean adding a year to the original timescales.”

As recently as April, it was reported that council was still looking to build up to 1,500 homes at the location. But LBN now understands this number is likely to be significantly lower.

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