The charities have worked together to maintain the iconic gardens and deliver amazing community benefits.
Together they have provided exciting educational opportunities to more than 1,800 school pupils and over 1,600 people have benefited from health activities. In addition, the site has brought together hundreds of local volunteers who have, over the last five years, worked tirelessly with support from the rangers to maintain the gardens.
Notable activities have also included the delivery of the award-winning Green Angels training scheme, which saw more than 60 people, many from jobless families, receive horticulture training, and resulted in almost half moving on into a job or further training opportunities.
The oriental gardens have become a regular location for cultural activities by the local communities and host Tai Chi classes and the annual Tanabata Festival. Recent research indicates that over the five years of the Land Trust and The Conservation Volunteers management the Gardens have delivered over £25 million of healthcare, crime reduction and safety benefits to the local community.
Before the handover on Monday, 15 May, both organisations and the council thanked staff, volunteers and visitors for their dedication and passion over the past five years.
Euan Hall, Chief Executive of the Land Trust, said: “We are extremely proud to have been involved in the regeneration of this lovely site. It has been wonderful to have been part of its transformation from a derelict and unloved area into an attractive and well-used community park over the last five years. We have had the support of some amazing partners along the way including our fantastic TCV rangers and the hundreds of people who have volunteered their time and skills.”
He added: “We are obviously disappointed that, having originally championed the restoration of the gardens and identified long term funding, we will no longer be involved. As custodians of the investment from the public purse and Langtree over the past five years, and knowing the importance of Festival Gardens to the community, we wish the Council well in their endeavours to continue to enhance the site and protect the investment, so the site does not fall into disrepair once again. We hope the Gardens have a positive future ahead as part of the redevelopment of the area under the management of the City Council.”
Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, Liverpool’s cabinet member for Regeneration, said: “I’d like to thank the Land Trust and The Conservation Volunteers for all their hard work, commitment and enthusiasm over these past five years which has brought great joy to thousands upon thousands of people visiting the Festival Gardens.
“The City Council is looking forward to working with volunteers to maintain the gardens while we set about fine tuning plans for a landmark development that will place them at the heart of a new community.”
Darren York, Managing Director of The Conservation Volunteers, added: “Community volunteering charity TCV are very proud of our work, in partnership with the Land Trust, to help local communities look after and improve the Festival Gardens. Over the course of the last five years we have seen huge interest from local people, who clearly value the Festival Gardens enormously, and a tremendous amount of volunteering has taken place. We are disappointed that we are not able to continue working with this brilliant community, but wish the Council well with their future plans for this remarkable green space.”
Festival Gardens is the iconic waterfront park situated on the site of the 1984 Liverpool International Garden Festival. After the event it eventually fell into disrepair and was closed to the public. It was left unused until developers Langtree acquired the site as part of a residential development scheme.
With their support, inspiration from land management charity the Land Trust and funding from the Northwest Development Agency, parts of the garden were restored to their former glory and once again opened up to the public.
The Land Trust, with day-to-day managing partners The Conservation Volunteers, took over the management of Festival Gardens in May 2012 and were funded to manage the site for five years until returns from the proposed Langtree development would create financial stability for the gardens’ long-term management.
As a result of the recession the housing was never built and in March 2015 Liverpool City Council purchased the gardens and in March this year announced it is seeking a development partner at Liverpool Festival Park, which will incorporate the gardens.