Liverpool’s Festival Gardens will close on Monday (28 January) as investigations get underway to inform the area’s multi-million pound regeneration.
Contractor Willmot Dixon will drill several bore holes during the temporary closure to determine what lies beneath the 25-acre formal Chinese and Japanese gardens.
According to Liverpool City Council the findings will contribute to a remediation strategy for the wider 100-acre location and will also be used to explore how the gardens can be revamped as part of proposals to build an estimated 1,500 properties on the adjacent 28-acre development zone.
The whole Festival Gardens site is made up of three areas – the 25-acre gardens, the 28-acre development zone made up of fenced off land containing the remains of the site’s dome and plaza, and the 47-acre southern grasslands made up of derelict former Festival Gardens land.
Following the three-week investigation, the Festival Gardens will reopen on 16 February in time for schools’ half term break.
The council is working with a joint venture company by developers ION and Midia to put together a detailed masterplan for the development zone, including residential, remediation, funding, public consultation and planning/highways strategies. A new enhanced maintenance regime for the gardens is being designed as part of the process.
Meanwhile the local authority, which took control of the site in 2015, says it is currently ‘refining a viable business case’ for a new leisure attraction in the surrounding area and is also conducting soft market investor testing and considering other proposals to complement a wider destination offer.
The project now features on the Department of Trade & Investment’s Northern Powerhouse Investment Portfolio and will be promoted internationally, including at the forthcoming MIPIM property exhibition in Cannes in March.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson says: “The potential of the International Festival Gardens site is hugely exciting and we are now at a critical stage of completing the picture of how we can begin to realise its future.
“The history of the area as a former landfill site is well documented and we need to undertake these investigations to inform the engineers and potential investors on the delivery of these proposed residential and leisure schemes.
“We’ve tried to minimise the impact on closing the gardens for a short as time as possible – at a time of year when usage is at its lowest.
“The long term gain in terms of investment, housing and jobs is going to be a game changer for the city and will secure the long term legacy of what everyone hoped for the gardens way back in 1984.”