A new partner is being sought by Liverpool City Council to manage Croxteth Hall and Country Park.
A report to Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet next Friday, (February 17), is recommending a partner be sought to manage the historic estate on behalf of the authority.
The proposal, which would see the park and hall remain open to the public, will aim to secure new investment, increase activities and visitor numbers and save the council £1m a year in running costs.
The city council have consulted with local stakeholders and following an engagement exercise, to seek ideas and potential solutions, have received enough interest to provide confidence that a self-financing operation can protect the estate for future generations to enjoy.
The estate, which covers just over 500 acres featuring the Grade II* listed Hall, Croxteth Home Farm, a Victorian Walled Garden and the park itself – Liverpool’s largest – had been the stately home of the Molyneux family, the Earls of Sefton, since 1575, but has been in public ownership since 1972.
The hall and country park, which also accommodates an adventure playground, gift shop, aerial rope adventure course, horse riding centre and café, attracts in excess of 600,000 visits a year and the council has branched out to create income by promoting the hall as a setting for weddings, films, conferences, exhibitions and concerts.
The proposal to cabinet will not affect a £3.5m plan by Myerscough College, who provide further education to local young people on the site, to create a new animal and equine centre on the site of the former grounds maintenance depot.
Mysercough College will also continue to run the walled garden, which houses some of the city’s botanical plant collection, while Home Farm will continue to be operated by the Neighbourhood Services Company (NSC).
Once approved by the cabinet, the city council will launch a procurement exercise later this year. Bids will be assessed by a panel including local stakeholders: the Friends of Croxteth Park, Croxteth Hall Volunteers and the West Derby Society alongside council officers and elected members.
Councillor Steve Munby, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “It’s really important we get this right. Our experience of working with Myerscough and the Neighbourhood Services Company has taught us that working with partners can bring in more visitors and improved facilities. You only have to go to the Home Farm to see this. The engagement exercise helped us develop a shared vision of what kind of uses are acceptable and what aren’t. I look forward to working with the stakeholders in Croxteth Park to secure its long term future.”
Councillor Peter Mitchell, Mayoral Lead for Parks, said: “The preservation of Croxteth Hall and Park as a public asset, with free public access, is our number one priority and after years of searching for a partner we are very close to securing a win-win situation. The estate has been enjoyed by millions of people for generations and holds a unique place in the city’s heart, so it is vital we have the voice of the community at our side when we come to choosing the new stewards of this estate. We’ve been hugely encouraged by the interest in the estate and we look forward to assessing exciting plans that will breathe new life into one of Liverpool’s finest crown jewels.”
Stephen Guy, West Derby Society chairman, who will sit on the selection panel, said: “We hope this initiative can secure the future of Croxteth Hall. Many parts of this historic building, dating from Tudor to Edwardian times, are in urgent need of refurbishment. This is Liverpool’s own stately home and has enormous significance in its cultural history. The Molyneux family were in Liverpool continuously for more than 900 years – from the Norman Conquest to the 1970s. Hugh Molyneux, 7th and last Earl of Sefton, left the people of Liverpool a wonderful legacy which we cherish. The new partner must recognise the special place Croxteth Hall and Country Park hold in the hearts and minds of our citizens.”