Festival Gardens, Liverpool City Council, p Liverpool City Council

The Festival Gardens site has lain vacant for more than 25 years. Credit: via Liverpool City Council

Cost of Festival Gardens remediation rises to nearly £60m 

Liverpool City Council needs another £7m to clean up the 22-acre former landfill site, earmarked for redevelopment into around 1,500 homes. 

Contractor Vinci is currently remediating part of the South Liverpool development site, which once formed part of the International Garden Festival celebrations launched by Queen Elizabeth II in 1984. 

The complexity of the project and previously unforeseen issues around the underground conditions mean the budget has increased. 

Having initially pulled together £51.45m to pay for the work, the city council needs £6.95m more to finish the remediation phase of the project. 

Around £5m of the increase is attributable to an underestimation of how much material would need to be removed from the site and how deep Vinci would have to dig. 

Vinci has removed around 43,000 cubic metres of material from the ground, significantly more than the 12,000 cubic metre cap set out in the city council’s contract with Vinci. 

Under the terms of that contract, the city council is liable to pay for the removal of any additional material above the cap, it is understood. 

A report to the city council’s audit committee explains that Vinci was the only principal contractor willing to undertake the project, thus putting the contractor in a “strong negotiating position” when it came to apportioning risk. 

“Acquiring a former domestic landfill with the objective of comprehensive regeneration is a complex project and high-risk commitment with great uncertainty around viability and deliverability,” the report states. 

Despite this cost increase, Liverpool City Council claims it is now “within touching distance of completing site remediation”. 

The next stage of the Festival Gardens project will see the city council appoint a development partner. 

Liverpool decided in September to restart the procurement process for the job, having previously signed an exclusivity agreement with a joint venture between Ion Developments and Midia Property Developments. 

Ion bought Midia out of the JV in 2021.

Liverpool City Council is not the only local authority facing an increase in project costs. Over in Manchester, the local authority has seen the costs of arts and culture venue Factory International rise from £110m in 2017 to £210.8m today.

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Very much want to see this happen, but to underestimate ,by so much, how many cubic metres of material needed removing is disturbing, however having used so much money in getting to this stage then the remediation work has to be completed. Therefore to clawback this outlay and make money on the development surely there will have to be some high density and multi-storey buildings put up, as it just would not be viable to build a load of suburban detached and semis now.

By Anonymous

Not sure it was ever going to be suburban detached and semis – this needs to be quality density, e.g. 3 storey townhouses and 5ish storey apartments. Benefit is that very minimal parking should be needed – it is spitting distance from St Michael’s, has buses on Riverside drive, and is on a traffic-free cycle/walking route all along the waterfront. Perfect for modern European-style city living. Could be amazing.

By Fingres crossed

Almost £39,000 per plot just on remediation. Ouch!

By Roger Bacon

This is a huge cost increase on a remediation activity that is nothing new to the industry. How did the experts who assessed the need get this so wrong?

By Anonymous

Bungalows are needed for the elderly and majority affordable housing should be provided. Otherwise, this would be a complete and utter sell out.

By Bempton Road

In this age of civil engineering technology with solutons such as soil mixing where you can remediate contaminated ground in situ without removing to landfill why is so much material being taken to landfill ie moving the problem from one site to another

By Anonymous

‘Experts’ ? They seem to be just making up numbers as they are going along.

By Anonymous

Oh dear oh dear, I believe the consultant advising LCC on Liverpool Festival Gardens is the same consultant who worked on the Factory in Manchester… Perhaps an established name with “a strong reputation” is not always the best bet…

By Anonymous

@Bempton Road, £60m in remedial works just to plonk a load of bungalows down, now that would be a waste of money, anyway lots of “elderly” people like to live in well maintained flats with a concierge, as in Belle Vale and Scotland Road. Why do people like you always want to dumb things down, are people with a bit of money and want to do things different not allowed in this city.

By Anonymous

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