Liverpool opens 24-acre park by Festival Gardens
Formed using recycled soil, Southern Grasslands rises 30 feet to offer views of the River Mersey and Liverpool’s city centre.
VINCI Building created the 24-acre green space off Riverside Drive using 100,000 cubic metres of soil removed from the Festival Gardens development site, itself a former landfill.
Southern Grasslands officially opened to the public at 10:30am today. Located within a 10-minute walk from St Michael’s train station, the park includes more than 5,700 trees and shrubs, 2 kilometres of walking paths, and an array of picnic tables and public benches.
Visitors will find miniature woodlands and meadows to help increase biodiversity and create wildlife corridors for insects, butterflies and bees.
Cllr Laura Robertson-Collins, Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “The opening of the Southern Grasslands is a watershed moment in both the story of our famous Festival Gardens site and in Liverpool’s journey to tackle climate change.
“Its creation marks the end of a truly monumental two-year long process to excavate the nearby development zone – and is testament to how nature and wildlife can benefit from development when we put our minds to it,” she continued.
Rob Symons, contracts manager at VINCI Building, said the company was proud of its Southern Grasslands work.
“Working collaboratively with Liverpool City Council, our Specialist Subcontractor (Vertase FLi), and numerous other stakeholders, we have delivered a lasting legacy for this part of Liverpool,” Symons said.
He also spoke about how the company approached the use of waste at Festival Gardens to create the park.
“Our methods of working enabled the recovered waste materials from the historic landfill to be recycled and re-processed in numerous ways avoiding the need to go back into landfill elsewhere, whilst sorting all engineering fill from these wastes and using them to create the development zone,” he said.
“Any unsuitable fills were transferred via a riverside haul route to avoid congestion on local roads.
Symonds continued: “These unsuitable engineering materials create the shaped landforms standing proud within the Southern Grasslands. These mounds have been carefully landscaped to increase the biodiversity of this whole area, providing a long-lasting benefit for the local communities use”.
Around 400,000 cubic metres of soil and waste have been removed from the Festival Gardens site since early 2021, as VINCI readies it for a potential housing development of up to 1,500 homes. Of the 400,000 cubic metres of soil and waste, 95% has been recycled.
In addition to fixing the ground itself, VINCI has conducted a £6m programme to install a substation and drainage system on the site. This project received funds from Liverpool City Council, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Homes England, an OFGEM.
Plans for Festival Gardens are still in flux, with a design team set to be appointed in September to craft a more concrete vision. Liverpool City Council is looking to commence the procurement for a development team in spring 2024.
Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram described Festival Gardens as a symbol of devolution in action.
“The Festival Gardens site holds a special place in the hearts of many Scousers, but it has been left to go to rack and ruin by decades of private sector failure,” he said. “It is only through devolution, with a Metro Mayor working in partnership with Liverpool City Council that we can put that right.
“Our funding is helping to transform the Festival Gardens into a public asset once more and laying the groundwork for homes to be built,” he continued.
“Rather than a forgotten wasteland playing home to dumping, this new grassland should be home to a thriving community of new homeowners.”
Cllr Robertson-Collins described the synergy between the Festival Gardens redevelopment programme and the opening of Southern Grasslands as “the ultimate win-win”.
“Repurposing the soil from a former landfill site to create an eco-haven is a story wildlife campaigners dream of…” she said.
“Liverpool is gaining not just a potential new housing scheme but a year-round recreational space which will also act as a huge new carbon sink and which will benefit our unique coastal biodiversity for decades to come.”