Festival Park River View CGI

Council picks development team for £700m Festival Park

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Ion Property Developments, in a joint venture with Midia Group, is set to partner with Liverpool City Council to deliver the residential-led regeneration of Festival Park.

The council has been searching for a developer or investor for the 90-acre site for a number of years, and exploring different procurement routes. The latest launched in March; Ion and Midia both submitted expressions of interest, and due to similarities in their proposals suggested to the council they work together on the scheme.

The Festival Gardens site has a complicated history. The former waterside landfill became a centrepiece of the International Garden Festival in 1984, before falling into a state of disrepair and becoming the subject of various proposals which never progressed.

Langtree had a development option on the site and secured planning permission for 1,250 homes, which remains valid until 2022. However construction didn’t move forward, and the council regained control in 2015 at a cost of £6m. Redrow was considering taking forward housing proposals, however withdrew its interest.

In 2016, the council commissioned K2 Architects to work up a masterplan, and released its vision for up to 2,500 homes, 500,000 sq ft of commercial and leisure floor-space, a new ferry terminal and a major waterpark attraction.

Liverpool Festival Gardens Artists Impression

A search for a development partner has been under way in earnest since 2016. As well as changing procurement methods, one of the delays has been due to the council increasing the size of the plot which it believes could be suitable for homes. The development zone within the wider Festival Park totals 28-acres, including sites for flats as well as grasslands and leisure space. Within this, nine acres along the waterfront has been earmarked for residential use; and while the council said building on this land will add to the remediation cost, the waterside homes are also expected to generate greater profit. If all goes well, Liverpool City Council is hoping for a £38m capital receipt from the Festival Park project, plus profit share from the sale of the homes.

A report is going before the Liverpool City Council cabinet on Friday, to confirm Ion and Midia’s six-month exclusivity agreement, and sign-off plans for further remediation assessments. Willmott Dixon and Arup are currently advising the council on remediation, and have predicted that decontamination works across the entire site could cost between £13m and £22m.

One of Ion and Midia’s roles will be examining this cost, how it ties in with a development plan, and ways in which the remediation could be funded, possibly through grant.

Leisure operator Heritage GB also has an exclusivity agreement on part of the site as it is exploring plans for a waterpark, and its proposals will “dovetail” with the work of Ion and Midia, according to the council.

Your Comments

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This could be something really special. K2’s visuals look great

By Dan

@ Dan totally agree with you. This has so much potential.

By Anonymous

@Dan, not with Ion involved it won’t be. Those K2 images will be for the birds once they start cutting every corner with cheap materials and design. The things they’ve just flung up on Lime St and the Strand being prime examples.

By Morgan

Where will they put Lidl?

By Mikes mate

They searched the world and found who they wanted at home they should have saved themselves the time and effort, after all they have worked with them on many things??

By Democrazee

This needs to be a top class, high quality project that will become something to be proud of, not just another example of low grade buildings being thrown up to fill a vacant site, simply to enhance the Council’s house building targets.
What happens to the proposed ferry terminal when the tide goes out? Will it interfere with the shipping channel to Garston?
Will this project go the same way as the Urbed proposals for Garston regeneration, made in 2014?

By Eddie Bentley

What will the impact on this project if the proposed barrage scheme goes ahead?

By E. Bentley

@Morgan – Nailed it, right there.

By Sceptical

With Mann Island and the emerging brownfest that is Lime Street under their belts, I think we can safely assume what this will turn out like.

I think that Anderson’s council and Neptune are a good fit. I don’t feel that either fit Liverpool, however.

By Mike

I see they’re still flogging the stupid idea of a major waterpark. If a deal for this absurdity hasn’t already agreed, I’ll be amazed. As ever, the people of Liverpool imposed upon, not served.

By Mike

@Mike The idea of a Waterpark is imposing on whom exactly?

By L17

I for one can’t wait for the water park to take my young family to, also I think that Mann Island and the Lantern are both great. People complain when red brick buildings get built in the city, people complain with modern architecture, it’s a loose loose situation…..

By Local Guy

A waterpark would be brilliant, as a parent I’m always looking for somewhere to take the kids when the weather is bad. There’s no reason why this won’t happen. The people moaning on here are the same people moaning about Liverpool Waters, well now we’re getting a cruise liner terminal, IOM ferry terminal, thousands of apartments, a hotel and soon we’ll be seeing images of a state of the art football stadium complete with restaurants and whatever else it brings. People like to moan, they then moan about something and when it gets built, they’re off moaning about something else.

By Anonymous

Oh I know, local guy! People complain when cgis are produced of thriving canalsides and the reality is a windswept bleakscape, and they complain when a HS2 station site is replaced by a brown sludge “Plan B” student accommodation building (and never formally admitted as such). What are people like! You just can’t win!

By Mike

@ mike do you even live in the city? I was out in the city centre last night around 8pm and it was buzzing, I’d even go as far as to say it was packed, restaurants full delegates with their name badges mooching around. Many many different nationalities, they city might not be developing exactly how ‘some people’ might want – but you cant deny that thousands More beg to differ…

By Local Guy

Of course I live in Liverpool. Why would anyone care so much otherwise.

Oh yes, delegates attending the liberal democrat era conceived exhibition centre, visitors coming off the liberal democrat era built cruise liner terminal, shoppers shopping in the liberal democrat era built Liverpool One shopping centre, and the few remaining businesses in the liberal democrat era commercial district are all entirely welcome, and thank god we have those.

But they continue coming despite the city as it is today, not because of it. What these planted seeds could have grown into by now if the past 10 years hadn’t been flushed away as they have been.

For “Some people”, people can read the slogan:
“Liverpool: It’s not for the likes of you.”

It’s unfortunate that the types of people were talking about as no longer being welcome are the economically productive people who want to hold down decent jobs and live in a decent city. In other words, the people who stand between prosperity and the abyss.

That suits a small minority. But no one who cares about the city and its people.

By Mike

I will be very interested to see what the new proposals will look like. Are they still suggesting that the new development will be for 2500 homes? If so it will be double this size of that shown in K2’s images (they show a scheme of aroubd 1300) and will be a completely different animal altogether.


By Anonymous

Great comments chums, you have made me chuckle this avvy.

By Verum

How much better would it be if the land were used for a public park and green space, extending the small Festiavl gardens site rather than another residential development. Trying to cram in 2,500 homes will just lead to traffic chaos which won,t do much for any water park (of which there are already two at the Albert dock anyway). But worst of all is the remmediation coasts, as revealed int eh Echo last night (10/10/18) the revised estimate is now 29 million, that’s right 29 million which will substantially eat into the £38 million from the captial receipt and by the way this is an estimate and estimates are usually way under the actual costs. This city is becoming a polution disaster area due to the increased numbers of car journeys – more green space is needed not more houses

By Neil

Given it’s location, this site surely has to be one of the most significant development opportunities in the north west of england and yet the best that Joe can offer is the prospect of yet another embarrassing partnership with local bully boys ION, for a paltry return of £38m. In fairness to ION at least they have some professional legitimacy. Perhaps the question that needs addressing here is not about Festival Gardens, but instead how much damage been done to the city’s reputation by their continual support of so called local developers.I suspect that the outcome of this debacle is more about how many of the big funds that the city ideally would prefer to deal with don’t want to be associated with the current batch of elected leaders.

By Girl-dun-gud