K2 Architects has been appointed by Liverpool City Council to prepare a masterplan for the former International Festival Gardens, to create a new “cultural garden suburb”.
The council is due to meet today to approve the use of £6m to remediate a nine-acre slice of land near to Britannia Inn, which the council hopes to sell on to a residential developer for around £9m. Around 85 homes could be built on the plot. Profits would be used to remediate other parts of the waterside site.
Liverpool City Council regained control of the Festival Gardens from Langtree in summer last year, after a 10-year deadline passed for the developer to draw down two 150-year leases at the site for residential development.
During the time that Langtree was overseeing the site, it gained outline planning permission for 1,380 homes, centred around the northern third of the site where the Festival Hall was formerly located. The permission will remain valid until 2022.
Since acquiring the site the council said that there has been extensive soft marketing testing with a variety of mixed-use developers and leisure/visitor operators.
The council wants the site, which is already open to the public as gardens, to become an extension of the city’s current cultural, leisure and residential offers.
Surveys of the gardens and southern grasslands are getting underway to give an understanding of the ground conditions across the whole site, which will inform the master plan.
Contractors are also working on clearing overgrown vegetation on part of the site with a view to using it as events space during the summer months, ahead of remediation starting in the autumn.
K2 Architects is working with Arup on the masterplan.
Speaking to Place North West, Kevin Horton, partner at K2, said that the practice was not creating “a usual masterplan”.
“We’ve been tasked with delivering something world-class, but very particular to Liverpool. We’re drawing inspiration from places such as the Greenwich peninsular as a starting point.
“The masterplan with solve the issues that have lurked around the Festival Gardens site for some time, and use them to its advantage, to create a plan that the council can take to market at an international level.”
Festival Garden is a former wasteland was landscaped and planted up in 1984 for the Liverpool International Garden Festival. A joint venture between Langtree and David McLean Group was granted a 99-year lease on the site in 2005, with plans to develop a leisure and retail park. David McLean went into administration in 2008.
A lease was then agreed with just Langtree, and the delivery of 1,300 apartments and 66 townhouses on one third of the site was approved in 2008. Due to the recession the residential development stalled, although Langtree completed the remediation of the parkland and opened it to the public in 2012.