Wavertree is fortunate to have two Conservation Areas - the Village and the Garden Suburb - separated by an area of green space which adds to the character of both of them. In 1990 we suggested that the Conservation Area boundaries should be extended to include this open area (the Olive Mount school site as well as the Manweb playing fields) to guarantee that the green 'gap' would be preserved. However, we were told by Council officers that this was unnecessary, as their Green Space policies gave sufficient protection. Sadly, this proved not to be the case, as when the school was closed in 2001 the bulk of its landscaped grounds and playing fields were built upon. For this reason the open space which remains is, we feel, even more precious.
When the 125 year lease of the Manweb sports ground was sold to Scottish Power in 1995, it included a clause restricting the use of the land to 'sports related' activities. For this reason, the sale price of the lease in June 2011 was only £40,000. Moreover the whole area, having been zoned as Private Open Space in Liverpool's development plans since the 1950s, is designated as Green Space in the current Unitary Development Plan. There is, therefore, no immediate threat; but what is of concern to local residents is the lack of information as to what the new owners intend to do with the land.
The new owners of the lease, according to the Land Registry, are two private individuals and a firm of Pension Trustees. The two individuals happen to be Directors of Mason & Partners, a Liverpool firm of chartered surveyors and property consultants, but their ownership of the lease is personal; apparently it forms part of their personal pension provision. Local residents have been told by Mason & Partners that the firm is managing the site "on behalf of Trustee Pension Fund clients. Our clients' intentions are in their formative stages though involve revitalising sporting operations for the Olive Mount playing fields, for the benefit of the local community".
A particular cause for concern has been the amount of earthmoving, tree felling, scrub clearance and burning of vegetation which has taken place in recent weeks. No planning application has yet been submitted, nor has an application to carry out tree work - though the northern half of the site is covered by a Tree Preservation Order imposed in 1994.
We hope to be able to report more positively in the next issue of the Newsletter.
One local rumour suggests that Liverpool John Moores University is interested in taking over the land for use as a Sports Ground - but as yet the University has declined to confirm or deny this.