Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 15:35 UK

Festival site revamp plan backed

Artist's impression of festival site
More than 1,300 homes will be built in the garden site

Plans for the 250m redevelopment of Liverpool's garden festival site have been approved after a public inquiry.

Under the scheme, more than 1,300 homes will be built and 56 acres of the Japanese and Chinese gardens restored to their former glory.

The plans were opposed by some local residents who wanted the area to be used as public parkland.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears, who has final approval, said it would have "substantial regeneration benefits".

Despite the slowdown in the housing market, in her decision Ms Blears said that the development was "economically viable".

She also said there was "no evidence to support the suggestions that excessive profits would be made or that a scheme with fewer housing units would be able to fund the proposed park".

I'm extremely disappointed, albeit not surprised.
Dave Jones, opponent

Ms Blears agreed with opponents and said the development could have a "harmful" impact on the character of Otterspool promenade - but said this was outweighed by the benefits.

Leader of Liverpool City Council Warren Bradley welcomed the announcement, and said: "This is an important decision for the city of Liverpool and a victory for common sense.

"The site is currently a major blight on the local community and a considerable source of anti-social behaviour.

"The plans will ensure that this site is once again an asset that the city can be proud of and, importantly, can access once again."

But local resident Dave Jones believes the site should have been opened up and left for the people of the city.

Hall demolished

He told BBC Radio Merseyside: "I'm extremely disappointed, albeit not surprised.

"At the end of the day, money talks and this is just another in a long line of missed opportunities for the city.

"We let the overhead rust away, we've allowed it to fall into dereliction and this would have been an ideal place to develop for the citizens of Liverpool."

The site was originally designed for the 1984 International Garden Festival, but fell into disrepair and has been largely neglected since the 1990s.

Haydock-based commercial developer Langtree bought the site near Otterspool in July 2004 and secured planning permission in 2007.

It has already knocked down the derelict festival hall to make way for the new development of 1,308 flats and 66 houses.

Festival site plan under scrutiny
30 Oct 07 |  Merseyside
Garden festival plans approved
21 May 07 |  Merseyside
New plan for garden festival site
22 Nov 06 |  Merseyside
Festival site set for salvation
02 Sep 04 |  Merseyside

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