Housing plan goes ahead despite park campaigners’ efforts

A controversial housing development situated next to a popular park will go ahead, much to the dismay of community campaigners.

After a lengthy debate and passionate pleas from those around Springfield Park, Liverpool Council has given the green light to proposals by Step Places to construct blocks up to five storeys tall on land occupied by the old Alder Hey hospital. A series of retirement units, houses, and assisted living facilities have been given permission to be built on the land.

It represents a reduction on the proposals granted planning permission more than two years ago. Dozens of campaigners packed into Liverpool Town Hall on Tuesday morning in a bid to put their case forward.

Under the plans submitted by Manchester-based Step Places, 59 retirement units will be built alongside 31 houses and eight autism assisted living units. When the original plans were submitted for the old demolished Alder Hey site, almost 500 objections were lodged with the city council – an online petition of more than 1,300 signatories has been submitted alongside a series of formal objections.

Among those objecting was ward member Cllr Joanne Kennedy. She told the committee how the proposals represented an “unwanted housing development” and West Derby “simply doesn’t have capacity for more housing”.

To applause from members of the public, she said the scheme was “overbearing” and not in keeping with the surrounding area. Additionally, concerns were raised about how the project would impact capacity of schools, medical centres, and parking around the area.

The wrangle between the community in Knotty Ash and the hospital over Springfield Park has continued since a land exchange agreement with Liverpool Council made in 2012. In 2015, the specialist children’s hospital opened its new healthcare campus on land within Springfield Park resulting in green space being lost in the community.

Alder Hey is obligated to return 9.4 hectares of land back to council ownership. Dame Jo Williams, chair of the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust board, said she recognised it had been a “long and extended period of time” for the full park to be handed back to the community.

Step Places said their application was not related to the park, a position supported by Liverpool Council officers including team leader John Hayes who told the committee the land in question was “never part of the replacement” for Springfield Park. This was also the case for the controversial swale drainage system which has been long opposed by campaigners.

Attempts were made to prevent the scheme going ahead by some members of the committee but amendments failed. Cllr Pat Moloney described the plans as “not pleasing aesthetically” while the committee heard how the development was “incongruous” within the vista of the park.

Despite this, committee members backed the plans by a majority.

They also gave assent to a major plan to build more than 500 new apartments on the edge of the city centre. A series of new multi-storey blocks put forward by Love Lane Liverpool Limited, Sourced Development Group and Network Rail will move forward to provide housing near the city’s Ten Streets development at Pall Mall and Love Lane.

The application will create a residential-led, mixed-use redevelopment across the four areas of land, with towers between nine and 11 storeys high. Redundant and vacant buildings will be demolished to make way for the new blocks.

Cllr Joe Hanson said the area was “in desperate need of redevelopment” and could act as a catalyst for further progress at the Ten Streets.


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