The Salvation Army has launched an £8m funding drive to help bring forward its redevelopment of Strawberry Field in Woolton after the project was given the go-ahead by Liverpool City Council’s planning committee.
The committee approved the plans at a meeting on Tuesday morning. The former children’s home on the site, built in the 1970s and named John Lennon Court, will be demolished to make way for a training centre for young adults with learning disabilities, a visitor centre, and community café. The current buildings have been vacant since 2007.
Designed by Hoskins Architects, the two-storey development will provide learning space for up to 40 young adults, alongside an exhibition area. There are plans to display the site’s original gates, which are recognised as “an important cultural asset” by the council due to their association with The Beatles song, in this exhibition space.
The Salvation Army has now launched a funding drive to raise money for the project, and estimates it will need to raise £8m to help bring the scheme forward.
It is expected the project will take two years to build, subject to funding targets being hit.
Drew McCombe, divisional leader for The Salvation Army in the North West, said: “We are incredibly excited to have received planning permission as we now look to make our vision a reality. The support from the local community, along with Beatles fans, has been wonderful and we are very grateful.
“After a thorough period of research and development we discovered high levels of unemployment for young people with learning disabilities. Of one million people with learning difficulties in the UK, 93% are unemployed and 31% have no contact with family or friends.
“We see this as a social injustice and designed Strawberry Field to help address this. We believe the project has the potential to make a tangible difference to the lives of young people with learning disabilities and their families by equipping them with the skills to find meaningful employment.”
Planning permission for the development was first granted in 2014, but plans were revised following a feasibility study. Revisions included an increase in the size of the visitors’ centre and changes to the learning space, while an IT training suite and a common room were removed to keep the project within budget.
Also on the planning committee’s agenda was a proposal from Liverpool Mutual Homes to build 145 homes on a site off Edge Lane and Royston Street in Kensington.
The plans, designed by Bowker Sadler Architects, were given the green light this morning, paving the way for the project to start on site early next year.
The development on a vacant 3.9 acre site will provide 38 houses, 50 apartments and 57 duplex apartments, split across blocks ranging between two and four storeys in height.
Blocks fronting Edge Lane will include apartments and reach four storeys, while homes to the rear of the site fronting Royston Street will reach two storeys.