The following statement was made by Andrea Spyropoulos Chair of Riverside Residents Association in support of the proposed development.
Riverside Residents Association – formerly Riverside Action Group (appendix 1) was formed in 1992 to represent the views of the residents who live on the other side of Riverside Drive opposite the Former Garden Festival site. Any development proposal will affect them in a direct and personal nature affecting their everyday lives.
Riverside Residents Association is a fully constituted residents association with a vibrant membership in excess of 716 members we are a membership lead organisation, we have no political agenda and we are self funding via our subscription paid by members. All of our committee members and Chair are elected by the membership and work on behalf of the community on a voluntary basis and receive no payment or incentives.
When we talk about local residents we are refering to our paid up members, individuals who live directly adjacent to this development they are of course residents of Liverpool as well but any decision made regarding this site will have a direct impact on their daily lives.
We have enclosed a copy of our constitution and map of eligibility for your information. Appendix (2) and a sample agenda (appendix 3) and a news letter (.appendix 4)
This issue of the development of the site is not new to us and we have worked tirelessly to find an appropriate solution. We have on numerous occasions been ardently opposed to developments suggested for the site when we felt it was not an appropriate development. See appendix (5). There have been as many plans as sunsets for this site and we have been involved in all of them see appendix (6) for a sample
Today we are presenting the collective view of the membership which has been reached after undertaking extensive consultation with our members. The development of the former Garden Festival site has been on the agenda of every meeting since our inception.
Our AGM is open to all residents regardless of membership status and we have built on the work we began by researching what our membership thought would be an appropriate development for this site (appendix 7). In addition we conducted our own membership survey when the council distributed 9000 24 page documents to Liverpool residents in 1999 asking what they thought was appropriate for this site (see appendix (8) for the results of the research. )We also undertook further research of our own at that time using a similar data set which we then fed into the council research appendix (9). We have constantly reacted to the views of our membership and have kept members informed every step of the way through this lengthy ongoing process. Our last meeting was an AGM in September 2007
With such a large membership it would be unusual if there was not variation in opinion however on this matter we are confident that we are representing an honest and accurate view of the vast majority of the membership. That confidence is based on the work of our committee which has spanned a 15 year period and the engagement of our members in events organised by our group and the newsletters which are distributed on a regular basis to members and periodically to all residents. We take regular soundings of members and we have an excellent representative structure. Regarding this matter we have encouraged members to write to you expressing their views and we have submitted a signed petition in support of the application.
Regarding the latest proposal we have had one written letter of opposition from Mr David Jones of Beech Avenue. Mr Jones has written to you and kindly sent me a copy of his submission. He is appearing before this enquiry as part of the save the garden festival campaign as he is not a member of RRA. We have advised him to bring his views to your attention and will make no further comment other than to say they are different to the majority view of our membership. For the sack of clarity Mr Jones has been an invited guest at our representatives meeting when he declined to join the membership because the consensus view was at variance with his own views. He also attended our AGM in September as a local resident despite not being a paid member we welcomed his views and he had ample opportunity to express them to the members present.
We have also received a verbal comment at our AGM in opposition from Karen Fletcher who supports the notion of a park but nothing else in the proposal. Karen Fletcher is a local resident but again is not a member of Riverside Residents Association she was a member of Riverside Action Group the predecessor to Riverside Residents Group ( see appendix 10) when we were opposing one of the developments proposed by the Wiggins Group..
We have 2 other comments in opposition from local residents which arose during our door to door visits by representatives. Those individuals’ are not members of the Riverside Residents Association and they did not supply their names.
We have represented Riverside Residents Association at council meeting, meetings with our MP Louise Ellman and with local council members. (Appendix 11) We have also engaged with a variety of groups and local committees and Liverpool City Council and developers in order to ensure we have a voice in this process. On this particular development we have had some difficulty because one of our councillors is here as an “objector” or “critical supporter” of the development and has been advising the Friends of the garden festival on procedural advice and provided any information he could obtain (see appendix 12) following this declaration we felt that there was a conflict of interest and we felt unable to trust our councillor with any information from our group regarding this development.. The other 2 councillors were on the planning committee so could not discuss the plans.
Over the past eighteen months we have had many consultative meetings with Langtree MaClean, local councillors and various representatives of Liverpool City Council. We are confident that these consultations have brought about a number of changes to the initial proposals that now make up the development application for approval. The s106 planning gain of the creation of a new park with restoration works to parts of the original festival gardens is to be particularly commended being funded purely through the new residential development with ratepayers and Council bearing none of the costs or risks.
Quite naturally our residents have had many concerns and reservations about the initial proposals particularly on four key aspects, they are:-
We offer our comments about theses reserved matters.
During our meeting with the Traffic Impact Survey (TIS) Consultants we were shown how the proposed modification to Riverside Drive, by way of improvements to roundabouts, left and right turn filter lanes and new pedestrian crossings, brought about a quicker flow and reduced waiting time to traffic after them having made allowances for the increased volume of vehicles generated by the proposed development. Whilst the merits of the alterations were impressive we felt that the volume of traffic was under estimated both in the number of vehicles generated by the new development and also that no consideration had been given to increased levels of traffic exacerbated by several other developments on and around Sefton Street and Riverside Drive. There was also a reliance on the City Highway Engineers carrying out improvements to the Jericho Lane/Aigburth Road junction. It was noted that TIS reviews would be carried out during different phases of the development, the first being 2011. It was further noted that the initial infrastructure works would have priority to be completed early within the construction programme.
We understand that developers often have to contribute to works in order to secure approval but we would like to point out that whilst we have been debating this particular development over 15 years there have been hundreds of planning approvals which all contribute to the increased traffic flows along Riverside Drive, the majority being through traffic. For example Greens Gym, the Chinese Restaurant, Spa, Travel Lodge, Casino, Motor Mile, Johnson’s the cleaners, Speke retail development, and the Redrow housing development on Aigburth Road, John Lennon Airport expansion and the commercial Estuary Park as well as the large developments of office blocks and facilities. The redevelopment of the Dock area providing an arena with a maximum capacity of 10,126 seated and a convention centre holding 1, 3501There is also a large hotel developments will all contribute to traffic flows independent of the development of this site. The construction of the proposed Toll Bridge across the Mersey will again increase traffic flows down the Riverside Drive as it is the preferred route coming into the city from the current bridge.
There have been housing developments on the Riverside which of course generate their own traffic increase such as the Tay homes and the Herculaneum development, with Columbus Quay under construction, as well as the Quarter a combined Retail and apartment’s development which are under construction.
We do not believe that this is an issue which should restrict the potential for this site. We feel this is a much bigger picture issue which the City of Liverpool has to take a strategic lead and to ensure there is a joined up approach to planning across the city.
They could start by restricting heavy goods vehicles now using the drive as a main route access into the city and HGV that park up in the lay-bys and viewing platforms. As well as the coaches who now use the drive as a parking place throughout the day.
We are not traffic experts and can offer no expert opinion but Riverside Drive has a capacity problem mainly at peak times only, the majority of the time the traffic volume is within an acceptable range.
We believe that the provision of retail may actually decrease some traffic flows as local residents will have an accessible shopping opportunity within walking distance which they do not have at present.
We feel that the enquiry should reach an informed opinion on traffic based on expert evidence not fiction and we await the results, we do not pretend to have expert knowledge on traffic flows and therefore rely on the council officers in their assessment to protect our community’s interest.
We are all aware to some extent of the pollution that exists on the ex-landfill areas of the site. Apart from 15 years dumping of household waste the site is badly contaminated with oil, tyres by the thousand, motor vehicles and builder’s rubble allegedly containing many tons of asbestos and other contaminates. We have seen no robust evidence to support the existence of asbestos on the site. For a number of years prior to the current ownership policing and management of the site was virtually non-existent. Past successful prosecutions of Builders, Waste disposal tippers etc leave incontrovertible evidence as to the scale of previous abuse of the site.
Langtree MaCleans proposals suggest they will carry out some decontamination to the site. We are not experts but would expect planning approval to be given only if the council officers responsible for assessment of the proposals are satisfied that what is being proposed is viable and safe. Their leaving behind “long term monitoring” and “maintenance programmes” suggests a programme of working around rather than removing the contamination which may be the most appropriate solution and indeed the safest option but again we want the experts to demonstrate safety is paramount.
When the Herculaneum development was in the planning stage we had numerous people including the Liverpool Permaculture group who were the fore runners to the save the garden festival campaign presenting information regarding anthrax on the site. At that meeting Chaired by Richard Hunter members of that group were adamant that there were real health issues associated with the site development. We saw no evidence then or subsequently to support such a claim. We would not wish any individual to be put at risk and consider safety as paramount. We prefer to deal with fact as opposed to rumour and conjecture and we rely on expert evidence and examination by the appropriate authorities to ensure safety.
We are not qualified to comment much further on this subject instead we rely on the planning system and its employees to carry out its own consultations and assessments.
A large number of local residents are commenting that the concentration of proposed dwellings-1374-represents over development for the areas involved. We appreciate the financial link between the profit attained on the residential development being also funding for the decontamination costs, the redevelopment of the park areas and infrastructure improvements. We question however whether the high density of the development as proposed is justified in order to fund the planning gains that the application encompasses. No viable alternatives have been put forward for the site that offer such prolific planning gains to the City Council
That said the view of our membership is that the development will offer a first class residential opportunity whilst delivering considerable gains to the general public in the development of the park. We are lead to believe that the number of dwellings gives the balance for the viability of the development and the long term sustainability of the park. We understand the compromise and therefore fully support the proposals.
We understand the requirement as part of planning to have in place a green travel plan and we have no objections to travel schemes. However we strongly support the provision of adequate parking on site for visitors and retail shop users. The development proposal currently has one space per dwelling within the plan. We would urge that the residents have adequate car parking bays for the number of occupants with a minimum of 1.5 spaces per dwelling and if possible 2 per dwelling. No development thus far on the river front has sold dwellings without such provision and we believe any restrictions on this would impact on saleability. Our biggest concern is that if adequate parking is not provided there will be an overspill on to the adjacent roads and this will again affect our residents. We do not want to go down the route of resident only parking in an area that has visitors to the promenade. We are also hopeful that as technology moves forward the emissions from cars will be removed by the development of clean fuel, the amount of research and development in this area is beginning to produce results. Regardless of that we endorse the approach taken by the developer and do not support the proposals put forward by one of our councillors.
We fully support and endorse the proposals put forward by the developer as a realistic plan for the site.
This area is included in the proposal because of a request by the council to have some work completed as part of the planning conditions.
Priory Wood is a direct access route to the train service. It should be vibrant and utilised extensively. The wood offers a challenge because currently very few residents will use it as an access route because the trees provide hiding points. It is an area that some women will not walk through unaccompanied. A number of residents who use the train use the park and ride facility at the next available stop Brunswick. Residents who currently use the train complain about the lack of seats on the train as opposed to any access.
There is mixed views regarding this site ranging from “it should be cleared to provide a park and ride with good visibility from the station” to “leave it to the birds.” The truth is the developer has been placed in an impossible situation and will not resolve this because of the diversity of views, the proposed plan at least starts the process of management of this area. Again we do not see this as a reason to prevent the proposed development.
We warmly welcome any form of improvement to the area and feel strongly that what is proposed by the developers is an acceptable compromise on an issue that has no consensus of opinion we fully support the approach outlined in the development plan.
We understand the views put forward regarding wild life and green spaces and we think that the concerns are heartfelt and honest but tend to be exaggerated. 70% of the land will continue as green space providing habitat for the wild life. This is a man made area not a natural green space 25 years ago it was a rubbish dump. We have within yards, an abundance of trees in residents gardens, the wood in Jericho Lane, Priory Wood, Fulwood Park and Sefton Park are all within a short walking distance.
We believe that a 70% provision for birds and 30% for people provides due consideration to the wildlife on the site. The preservation of the current habitat has only been possible because of the vigilance of local residents; they have reported numerous fires which have been started by vandals over the years. It is only the prompt action of residents that has saved the trees from being completely destroyed by fire. We believe occupancy of the site will increase security and would alert emergency services if forest fire arose.
Improved Access & Security
We support the improved access to the promenade provided by the development opportunity and we believe that occupancy will make the promenade a much safer and secure area to visit, providing a natural policing element by the community. The improved access for the disabled from the promenade is considered essential as many people have mobility problems and making a site disabled accessible improves access for all. We understand that to achieve this there will have to be a removal of some of the trees but as there are more trees than people on the prom we would welcome a shift in balance. As far as we are aware there are no protected species of bird or plant on this site and there are no conservation orders in place. We therefore do not see any reason to deny access by the disabled in order to retain a few trees.
We fully endorse the proposals for the long term maintenance of the park and we are encouraged by the fact that at last there is now long term planning for management of the area.
Riverside Drive residents lack shopping facilities of any description and for such large volumes of dwellings that currently exist there is a need for some low key retail we believe this scheme fulfils that need.
We fully support the proposal put forward
We are not a NIMBY2 group and we do not resort to “rent a mob” tactics nor trying to infiltrate organisation with opposing views. We have not lied to our members in order to get them to sign petitions and we have not used scare mongering tactics such as the closure of the prom to the public. I hope that we have demonstrated that our committee members have been in this for the long haul they have been dedicated and hard working representing with honesty and integrity the views of the majority of residents in our organisation. We know only too well the cost of having this derelict site as our neighbour with risk of being bitten by dogs left to roam freely on the site (See appendix 12 for recent evidence) and to contend with frequent visits from travellers who leave behind an enormous amount of rubbish (see appendix 13). Evidence of a history of dumping is provided in appendix 14 not just on the site but on its periphery despite there being a rubbish site within half a mile.
The local people have put their money where their mouth is. The Garden Festival site was created to pump prime regeneration. Our residents represent the reality of investment in Liverpool and its slow recovery from an economic wilderness. The people we represent had a choice 17 years ago to leave Liverpool as many did at that time. Instead they made the biggest investment that any of us make buy purchasing their home in a redevelopment zone. They are hardworking individuals who contribute to the community and want nothing more than a development in keeping with the now residential nature of the Riverside area.
We realise that we are not the only voice here and that many people because of the history of the site feel they have a stake in the sites use. The development of the Park makes it an issue for the wider population of the city but the development of the park does not appear to be a contentious issue. The main difference of opinion arises in how funding such a development can be secured. Over the 15 years we have been dealing with this we have had lots of suggestions but no money, no business plan and no deliverable options to support the suggestions of which there have been many… This is the first realistic proposal that we have seen that has a robust funding structure to deliver. There is no plan B as far as we can see this is the only game in town.
When the decision for the future of this site is taken the vast majority of you in this room will not have to live adjacent to the site. We do not have the luxury of making a decision and then retreating to the comfort of our own homes because our homes are on the old garden festival site. We have raised almost identical issues to the friends of the festival garden site campaign the key difference is we are prepared to find a solution for this site which involves compromise but never the less a workable solution. We therefore ask you subject to the conditions discussed (on safety, density and traffic) to approve this development as per the planning application and this will allow our members to have some certainty on the future of this site.
We believe the proposed development delivers for the local community, the wider community and the city of Liverpool creating a park that will be an asset in a prime location on the riverfront. There are 447,500 people living in Liverpool 3 presumably they are either supportive or unequivocal about this development or they would be here today protesting they are the silent majority. Whilst we respect the opinion of the minuscule number of objectors we would be disappointed if they were able to dictate the outcome of this inquiry
To their credit the development of the site has the approval of the Council and is fully supported by the 716 members of Riverside Residents Association We could have filled this room with residents and raised banners during the site visit but we listened very carefully to the advice given on the first day and we have purposively had a very controlled number of our residents attending. We are not paid to attend and for us to have attended for the whole time would have been very costly for example my involvement for four days has cost my employer in excess of £4000. We hope that we will not be disadvantaged in any way because we have chosen to be represented by a small group representative of the membership.
There is a stark choice on offer here between a derelict site and a vibrant community contributing to the city with a Riverside park located in a spot to die for. We fully support this development and hope with all our hearts that approval is granted.
Only those who will not listen or look at the facts objectively would be stupid enough not to see the advantages of this opportunity.
At a recent University lecture a local journalist Joe Riley said this of the capital of culture
“Liverpool’s hour to redefine itself has finally come both in terms of the image it transmits and the benefits it reaps”
This is a win /win scheme and Liverpool should grasp the opportunity to reap the benefits on offer and bring the city into the modern era to leave this site derelict would be a sin.