OLIVE MOUNT SPORTS GROUND:
WHAT WE THINK
The Wavertree Society's Committee has discussed the future of the former Manweb Sports & Social Club playing fields in Thingwall Road. Our starting-point was a meeting in April 2012 with the co-owner of the land (Mr Chris Chetwood) and we have also made informal contact with local residents, sporting groups, Councillors and Council officers.
Our views can be summarised as follows:
1. We regard the Olive Mount Sports Ground as a very important area of greenspace. It defines the boundary of the Wavertree Garden Suburb Conservation Area, it provides pleasant open vistas from Thingwall Road (as well as from the houses surrounding it), and it offers potential as a recreational resource for the local community.
2. The adjacent greenspace - the grounds and playing fields of the former Olive Mount Secondary School - has already been lost. This means that the Sports Ground is even more worthy of protection than it was a few years ago.
3. We regard the southwest corner of the site - the area alongside Millstead Road - as the most valuable in terms of its visual impact as an open space. The view across the playing fields from this point is particularly striking, and we were disappointed to hear Mr Chetwood's suggestion that it should be released for a care home or housing development.
4. We are opposed to any form of built development on the land, other than a replacement of the changing-room/clubhouse facilities which previously existed. We understand that the current lease - granted by Liverpool City Council in 1995, and running for 125 years - requires the land to be used only for sports-related activities. We would therefore object to any attempt to vary the terms of this lease.
5. Bearing in mind the existence of recently-developed and generously-funded facilities at the nearby Childwall Sports College, we cannot understand why football is seen as the sole future use of the land. We would prefer to see a multi-sport facility, with cricket reintroduced to the Thingwall Road end of the playing fields. We also question the viability of the 'educational' element of the proposed football facility.
6. We urge the owners of the land (Chris Chetwood and Paul Pearce) in conjunction with the freeholder (Liverpool City Council) to explore all of the potential sources of funding for the reinstatement and improvement of the recreational facilities. In particular we urge them to consider nominating the land as a 'QE2 Field' under the scheme being prompted by the National Playing Fields Association (a.k.a. Fields in Trust) which would make it eligible for funding from a range of charitable sources.
7. Meanwhile we urge the City Council to put pressure on the owners to maintain the grassed areas of the site and to repair the boundary fence, so as to discourage unauthorised access and to reduce anti-social behaviour.