Festival Gardens receives £10m funding boost

Homes England is to provide a grant of £9.9m to facilitate the development of up to 1,500 homes at Liverpool’s Festival Gardens site.

The cash injection, provided to Liverpool City Council, comes from Government’s £450m Local Authority Accelerated Construction programme, and will be used to fund site remediation.

In October, the council announced it had entered into an exclusivity agreement with Ion and Midia to bring forward development at the 90-acre Festival Gardens. Previously, the council was working with K2 Architects, which designed a masterplan for 2,500 homes, 500,000 sq ft of commercial and leisure space, and a waterpark. Now it is understood that Ion has brought on board BDP, and Midia is working with AHR Architects, to take the project to detailed design stage.

Remediation work is to begin this spring, with construction of housing expected to start in 2021, with the first houses available in late 2022. In addition, the city council is currently testing feasibility for leisure development at the site.

News of the grant support comes as Homes England officially opens a base in the same building as Liverpool City Region Combined Authority at Mann Island, Pier Head. In time, up to 50 staff will be based at the office, the organisation said.

Sir Edward Lister, chairman of Homes England, said: “We are determined to use all the resources available to us to make homes happen across England – so I’m thrilled our funding means work can move forward rapidly at this historic site, providing homes for hundreds of families.

“With Homes England and combined authority experts now working side by side, we expect to further accelerate the construction of new houses across the region.”

Minister of State for Housing Kit Malthouse, said: “Delivering the homes Liverpool needs is a crucial element of our plan to build a successful and vibrant Northern Powerhouse.

“I was born and brought up in Liverpool and went to the original garden festival as a child, so I know how much this investment will regenerate a key area of this great city, transforming the Festival Gardens site with desperately needed family homes.”

The council and various interested developers have long been keen to develop the Festival site but the required remediation had put timescales and budget beyond previous attempts.

In February last year, the council started to move things forward, providing a £1.4m package for enabling works and site investigation.

In addition to owner-occupied houses, Homes England said that the site will also include privately rented apartments.

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, said: “We welcome this essential financial injection from Homes England. Festival Gardens is a much-loved waterfront location and people have very fond memories of spending time there. We are fully aware of the potential the Festival Gardens has and its transformation will be a game-changer for this city’s economy in terms of new homes, construction jobs and growth.

“Thanks to this funding, the council can start essential remediation works on site and move forward with the vision of creating a significant number of new family homes in South Liverpool at an iconic destination.

“Alongside this, we are testing feasibility for a leisure element on site – Festival Gardens will not only deliver a much sought-after housing development, but also a first class visitor and cultural destination.”

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