MANWEB PLAYING FIELDS: A WAY FORWARD?
At the residents' meeting held on 20th January - see our last Newsletter - Marc Powell (Chair of OBWRA) announced that a number of companies have approached the City Council, expressing interest in purchasing the land from its current owners. One company has stated that - if they were to purchase the land - they would want to build houses on 50% of it, but would give the remaining 50% for Community use. By gaining ownership of this portion of the land, OBWRA anticipate that they would be able to obtain funding and grants to create the recreational facilities that people have been asking for.
At the end of the meeting, everyone was encouraged to submit their views via the OBWRA website or by email. Overwhelmingly, the response has been in favour of the proposal - though with caveats and a degree of scepticism from some.
(See the OBWRA website at www.olivebranchwavertreeresidents.org for details).
The Wavertree Society is independent of OBWRA, but we share many of their concerns, and we support their ambitions for the site. Following our Committee meeting on 11th February 2016 we issued the following Statement:
1. We continue to believe that Liverpool City Council should take all necessary steps to enforce the terms of the lease, which requires the Lessees to maintain the premises in their 1995 condition and not to use the land for other than sport-related purposes.
2. We fail to see why any Court would not support the Council, when the purpose of the lease is so explicit and the breaches of the lease are so obvious.
3. We believe that, provided the Council continues to threaten legal action against the Lessees, there is a reasonable chance of the Lessees offering to surrender the lease back to the Council, or to sell it to a third party at very much less than the 'unrestricted freehold' market value of the land.
4. We recognise that the City Council does not have the financial resources to restore the land for use as a recreational facility. However we feel that it should be possible to find a way of paying for this, by varying the terms of the lease to allow residential development on part of the land and then using the proceeds to pay for the restoration of the remainder.
5. We would not be in favour of any built development at the end of the site nearest to Thingwall Road. This green space is crucial to maintaining the character of the Wavertree Garden Suburb Conservation Area, which it adjoins. It is one of the few surviving vestiges of the ring of green spaces that once surrounded the village of Wavertree. As such, it also enhances the character of the Wavertree Village Conservation Area.
6. Approximately 60% of the ex-Manweb land is directly overlooked by houses in Southway, which are situated within the Wavertree Garden Suburb Conservation Area. The Liverpool UDP (Policy HD11) states that "important views and vistas into and out of" conservation areas should be preserved. (For a map illustrating the area referred to, see next page).
7. If - and only if - it can be demonstrated that the restoration of the land for community recreational use can only be achieved by selling-off up to 50% of the total area, then we would not oppose this, provided that the land to be sold off is at the rear (i.e. the north end) of the site and there are guarantees in place to ensure that the remaining land cannot be redeveloped for non-recreational purposes.
8. We would prefer the housing to be 'affordable', and of a style in keeping with its surroundings, i.e. two-storey houses with gardens, laid out in such a way as to benefit from rather than conflict with the adjacent open space.
9. We ask that prospective developers of the site be requested to carry out a full community consultation - including seeking the views of OBWRA and the Wavertree Society - in advance of the submission of a formal planning application.