Liverpool City Council has opted not to use the Homes & Communities Agency’s DPP3 Framework to procure a partner for its £700m Festival Park project and will instead form a joint venture to develop the 90-acre waterside site.
According to council documents, expressions of interest for a development partner were ready to be issued on Friday 20 October as a first stage of the procurement exercise through the DPP3 framework, which includes big hitters such as Galliford Try, Interserve, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, and Wates.
Housebuilders Bellway, Keepmoat, Redrow, and Taylor Wimpey are also on the framework.
However, the council has now confirmed it will “review its options and seek a joint venture partner within the market”, opening up the process to more bidders.
The masterplan for the Festival Gardens site, designed by K2 Architects, could deliver up to 2,500 new homes, 500,000 sq ft of commercial and leisure floor-space, a new ferry terminal, and a major water park attraction.
Liverpool City Council approved the masterplan in June this year, and initially said it would ideally have an investor in place by the end of the year. It is understood the council is now targeting March’s international MIPIM property conference in Cannes as its deadline to have a partner in place.
The council also revealed it would be seeking £30m from the HCA’s Housing Infrastructure Fund to fully remediate the site’s development zone and start site utility infrastructure works.
Cost consultant Arup, which is also due to undertake intrusive site investigations to inform the business case for the area’s leisure proposition, has estimated the work to remediate the development zone at between £13.8m and £22.9m.
The council said there had been “a lot of interest” in the project following a soft market testing exercise earlier this year.
Alongside housing, leisure and employment space, the Festival Gardens site will host what the council describes as a “multi-based visitor destination”, including the largest water park in Europe.
Heritage GB has entered into an exclusivity agreement with the council to work on a masterplan for this part of the development, and according to the council, the company has been given “until the end of December 2017 to demonstrate they have viable masterplan and business case”.
Other aims of the masterplan include creating a 5km long green corridor to the city centre, a remodelled coastal path as well as a new cultural landmark venue, to sit alongside the year-round water park attraction.
The proposals for the wider site and next steps are due to be discussed at a regeneration, housing, and sustainability select committee on 14 December.
Liverpool City Council has been contacted for comment.