Q: When does the council say yes to digging up our historic parks...? A: When it suits it
Sep 7 2005
By Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
PART of Liverpool's historic Calderstones Park could be ripped up for a car park, the ECHO can reveal.
The proposal by the city council comes despite fears that Alder Hey children's hospital, which has outgrown its site, will not be allowed to rebuild on nearby parkland.
Calderstones car park would provide spaces for the predicted 100,000 visitors a year to a new tropical plant conservation centre, nicknamed the "mini Eden Project".
But families living near Calderstones Park are furious that a swathe of green space and trees could be lost beneath concrete, and have launched a campaign to convince city leaders to redraw the £12.7m plan.
The council says the car park is vital.
It also insists the lost parkland would be replaced by the landscaping of the derelict site of a former council depot.
But the row throws open to question the council's policy on building on the city's precious parkland - because Alder hey also insist that they will replace parkland for their proposed hospital rebuild.
Denis Smith, of Calderstones Road, said: "I do not think anyone has a problem with the Eden Project part. It would definitely enhance the park.
"But I do not think the car park is acceptable at all. It will be about three times the size of the Eden Project site and the reality is that we will lose a green section of the park.
"I would rather the council built the car park on the former depot site where the collection used to be based in a row of greenhouses, because it is derelict land."
Paul Timmins, 45, of Calderstones Road, added: "I do not think much thought has gone into this plan.
"If we start building on parkland, we will not have much culture left for Capital of Culture.
"It is not just residents around the park who should be concerned. Calderstones Park belongs to everyone."
The council wants to build three bio-domes with different temperatures and landscapes at Calderstones Park, the historic home of its botanic collection.
Cllr Warren Bradley, executive member for leisure, said: "No green space will be lost if a new car park is built at Calder-stones Park.
"The Harthill depot area of the park, which is an area of wasteland, will be turned into parkland to replace the land used for the car park.
"I must stress the plans for Calderstones Park and the botanic collection are still in the very early stages.
"We welcome the views of residents and park users, and will take all comments into consideration when the council discusses the future of the park."
Cllr Paul Brant, opposition spokesman for neighbourhood management, said: " I am appalled that these proposals will result in the loss of part of Calderstones Park."
£12.7m bio-domes for rare plants
THE planned home for Liverpool's botanic collection would be the city's most futuristic tourist attraction.
Tropical plants from around the world would be housed in three biodomes with different temperatures and humidity.
The botanic collection dates back to 1803 and was the first in the north of England.
Over the past two centuries, it has been at several sites - including Calderstones Park - and is currently based at Greenhill Nursery in Garston.
It is still the largest tropical plant collection in the north, containing about 16,000 plants.
But the plants are housed in dilapidated greenhouses, which are closed to the public.
Two years ago, a study suggested Calderstones Park was the best location for the collection and said it could attract up to 100,000 visitors a year.
The £12.7m plan is to house the botanical collection in a new display building next to the walled garden.
The council says a large area of car parking would be required for tourists, which would also provide spaces for general park visitors.
It is also proposed to create a commercial garden centre to help cover expected annual running costs of £650,000.
The council is planning to sell off the Grade II-listed Mansion House, Coach House and outbuildings. They are used by the council as offices, but are in a poor condition.
ECHO Political Reporter Nick Coligan says...
ROWS over the future of Liverpool's parkland are becoming more common - and now the council is facing a new storm.
At the moment, the biggest problem is that the public does not know what the town hall's policy is on green spaces.
On the one hand, they hear that the council will not allow new houses and the tram network to be built on city parks.
Alder Hey's hope of rebuilding its ageing facilities on Springfield Park appears increasingly at risk because it will wipe out green space.
On the other, Liverpool FC are given permission to build a new stadium on part of Stanley Park.
Now the council has its own proposals to build three bio-domes and a car park on Calderstones Park.
Why are some schemes acceptable, and others not?
The council's policy on parkland is that it will generally object to losing green space.
But there are exceptions. They take certain criteria into account when making a decision, for example if it improves a park's conservation or recreational value.
With Calderstones car park, the council believes it will increase the park's recreational value by allowing more people to use it. However, it seems strange that a car park is acceptable, but a new hospital is not.
The council must make its reasoning clear.
YOU can see the council's plans for the botanic collection at Calderstones Park on its website. Go to http://councillors.liverpool.gov.uk/...MeetingId=4550
If you want to contact the campaigners objecting to the proposal, email Paul Timmins at email@example.com