Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 12:01 UK

Festival site is 'embarrassing'

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

The legacy of Liverpool's international garden festival, 25 years on from its official opening, is an embarrassment, a woman who worked at the event says.

More than three million people visited the site in south Liverpool after it was officially opened by the Queen.

Since then it has become overgrown and derelict, although redevelopment is still expected to start in summer.

Angela Davies, who translated for the team that created its Japanese gardens, said she could now "cry" at the site.

The 1984 International Garden Festival was billed as a "five-month pageant of horticultural excellence and spectacular entertainment".

Described by some visitors as surpassing Capital of Culture year, it contained more than 60 individual gardens, a Festival Hall, public pavilions and miniature railway.

Langtree are absolutely committed to starting on the public park as the first phase
Warren Bradley, council leader

The site was opened by the Queen on 2 May 1984, who described its blooming gardens and exhibitions as "symbolic of what we all wish for Liverpool".

But once the five-and-a half-month festival was over, the site changed hands a number of times and fell into disrepair.

Mrs Davies said: "It's unbelievable. Really you could cry when you see what's happened and how it's been vandalised as well.

"The fact the garden became derelict was sad in itself.

"The saddest thing is that the plaque commemorating the fact the Japanese dedicated it to the city of Liverpool and its citizens in perpetuity is still there.

"The Japanese have asked several times for it to be removed because it's an embarrassment really."

Garden Festival site
The festival hall, built for the 1984 event, has now been pulled down

Plans for the £250m redevelopment of site near Otterspool, were approved after a public inquiry last year.

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 scheme was placed in doubt when building firm David McLean, a partner in the development with Langtree, was hit by the recession.

But Langtree said it remained committed to the site and has been seeking grants to rebuild the gardens.

Councillor Warren Bradley, leader of Liverpool City Council, said work was still expected to start in the summer.

"Langtree are absolutely committed to starting on the public park as the first phase," said Mr Bradley.

"And, as the markets kick back they will then be able to draw in the funding for the residential and district centre development which is so much needed down here."

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