Enabling works to start on £700m Festival Gardens

Liverpool City Council will sign off a £1.4m enabling works and site investigation package for its Festival Gardens site to help bring forward the 90-acre leisure-led mixed-use project.

Willmott Dixon and Arup have been appointed by the council to undertake site investigation and enabling works on the site to prepare it for development.

This includes a two-month set of surveys across the site which will outline details and costs on delivering the planned development, which includes up to 2,500 homes, 350,000 sq ft of commercial and leisure space, and a new ferry terminal. A masterplan for the site has already been prepared by K2 Architects.

The site is divided into four areas: The Development Zone; the Gardens; the Southern Grasslands; and the Extended Festival Gardens site.

Arup previously completed a remediation strategy on the Development Zone to the north of the site which is earmarked for a water park, hotel, and leisure facilities.

The council is already in discussions with operator Heritage GB for this portion of the site, and has an exclusivity agreement with the company until March this year.

The latest set of ground investigations will cover parts of the Gardens and the Southern Grasslands.

Willmott Dixon will also carry out a £232,000 package of enabling works to create a 19-acre temporary events space in the area around the former Festival Garden dome, again at the north of the site.

The council plans to use as this as part of its events programme celebrating the city’s 10th anniversary of its status as European Capital of Culture.

The £1.4m investment in enabling works and surveys will bring the council’s total investment in the site to £8.7m. The council has had to borrow to fund the works and the acquisition of the land so far.

Liverpool City Council is due to sign off the proposals at a cabinet meeting next Friday.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Festival Park Liverpool has the potential to be a huge game changer for this city’s economy.

“I’m encouraged by the work to date and the proposals Heritage Great Britain are developing for a major leisure attraction and we will soon be in a position to share these with the public.

“There is much work to be done but these site surveys will provide us with a roadmap to making this vision a reality over the coming decade.”

Late last year, the council changed its procurement process for a development partner on the project, opting not to use the Home & Communities Agency’s DPP3 Framework.

Expressions of interest for a development partner were ready to be issued on Friday 20 October as a first stage of the procurement exercise through the framework, which includes big hitters such as Galliford Try, Interserve, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, and Wates.

However, the council confirmed in December it would “review its options and seek a joint venture partner within the market”, opening up the process to more bidders.

It had previously discussed building homes on the site with housebuilder Redrow, but this was never pursued.

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