<b>savethefestivalgardens@googlemail.com</b>
The Campaign  
The Prom without the threatened concrete curtain Langtree McLean artists impression of future prom Demonstration photograph

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The Save the Festival Gardens Campaign was sparked off when a team of contractors arrived at the Festival Gardens in the middle of March 2007 and started a massive clear-felling of trees. More than 1,000 trees were cleared in just a few days - despite protests that the felling was illegal as birds had already started nesting in the woods.

There was initially general confusion among locals as nobody knew of any plans or permission to clear the woods at the Festival Gardens. Confusion turned to anger as it emerged that the site owner - property development company Langtree McLean - was behind the tree-clearance.

More than 100 people attended a public meeting called in protest against the destruction of the woodlands. A quick bit of voting by show of hands - and a whip round that that raised 80 - set up the campaign to try to save the Festival Gardens.

The image of the Tawny Owl was chosen as the mascot of the campaign - and a demonstration was organised and advertised to take place on the prom in front of the woodlands which were under threat.

Before we knew it the campaign was underway and gathering public support.

At the first public meeting the following points emerged as people's key concerns:

1. The Garden Festival Site had been shamefully neglected but the woods themselves were far from derelict.

" Over 23 years the woodlands have grown into a very successful (if unintended) wildlife reserve. Even people who did not enter the 'ineffectively fenced-off' area valued the Garden Festival woodlands as a unique and beautiful landscape on the prom.

2. There was widespread shock at the way that Langtree McLean had managed the tree-felling without consulting the local community - or even informing them what was happening. It was felt to be a very bad omen for what the developers would actually get up to - if the Council was so daft as to take their promises at face value.

" Local residents were especially concerned that a similarly cavalier attitude by the developer would prove calamitous when it came to handling the pollution hazard caused by the seriously contaminated nature (including asbestos) of the underlying land on the site.

3. There was real concern that levels of traffic and others problems created by the 'huge scale' of the development were being handled in an arrogant and dismissive way by both the developers and the planners.

At the meeting there was actual general disbelief that the plans could include the destruction of this unique part of the waterfront with the building of 'huge 7-storey high' apartment blocks directly overlooking the promenade - effectively 'cutting to shreds' the existing uninterrupted woodland landscape.

Over the last months the campaign has won considerable popular support with a series of positive and imaginative protests designed to celebrate the beauty of the landscape and the wildlife that Liverpool will lose if the Langtree McLean scheme goes ahead.

But equally important has been a lot of backroom research establishing an informed basis on which to object to the developer's plans on the specific grounds which the planning process is supposed to consider.

As a result this work the campaign was able to organized 600 detailed letters of objection to the development to be sent to Liverpool's planning officer and also produced a 12-page booklet summarizing the principal points against the Langtee McLean scheme - which was delivered by hand to each member of the planning committee ahead of the Planning Meeting.

  • Keeping a close watch on the planning process at the Town Hall has been an important (if tedious and time-consuming) part of the campaign. Attention to detail came up trumps when the campaign was able to alert the public that there was a plan to hand over a parcel of public land to the developer to help build blocks of apartments overhanging the prom!

  • The proposal had been hidden away in the detail of an Executive Board schedule - Point 6 of Agenda Item 4g - Page 198. Once it was in the public eye the proposal was rejected by the Council, but not before it was also revealed in open session that the council's own officers couldn't say how much public land they had intended to transfer!

  • For the final planning meeting the Campaign was able to organize a demonstration outside the Town Hall where the Planning Committee was meeting - with more than 60 people of all ages and a lively and colourful collection of placards and posters.

    Inside the town hall 20 members of the campaign (and sixteen executives from the developers) attended the 4-hour meeting which was to decide the fate of the Festival Gardens.

    A certain bias to the proceedings emerged when the developers were allowed to make an hour-long power point presentation to the committee but the objectors were limited to individual 2-minute statements of their objections to the development.

  • Following the Council's decision to grant the developer planning permission the campaign started on its current phase of activity - getting the decision 'called in' by the Government so that a public inquiry can provide a proper level of scrutiny of the developer's proposals.


  • Home

    The
    Woods
    The
    Concrete
    The
    Campaign
    The Public
    Inquiry
    In Depth Info
    & Hot Links

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