Calderstones Park – Here we go again?

We need to sort out for good the future of the Harthill section of Harthill & Calderstones Park so that Beechley Riding for the Disabled can get grants and we should sell Beechley House for housing so that we can use the money in the council’s hour of need.

Most of the local readers of this blog will know that for years local councillors working alongside a powerful group of local residents fought proposals from Joe Anderson to sell off the Harthill part of the Harthill & Calderstones Park.

The campaign was quite nasty. The Council accused me of misleading the public when I claimed that the Harthill area was part of the park. They actually published an advert in the Echo actually saying that. They then refused to retract the statement when a High Court judge agreed with me following a judicial review paid for and organised by the Save Calderstones Park team.

When the planning committee turned up to see the site, they called the Police in as a group of very well behaved and mainly senior citizens peacefully and lawfully made their protest.

The Labour controlled committee ignored all this and agreed with Anderson that the planning permission could be granted and that Redrow could take possession.

We thought all this was settled until we started to pursue two site issues:

  1. Why was a lease not being granted to Beechley Riding for the Disabled? They need to make some improvements to their menage and buildings and need to apply for grants to do so. For three years we have tried to move this forward to no avail.
  2. Why was Beechley House not being sold for housing? There is a huge interest in this grade II listed building and there is no-one who does not believe it should be sold for housing.

However, our enquiries revealed that officers, with no knowledge of the past controversy were once again considering assembling the land for housing and moving off the site the Riding for the Disabled operation and the model railway.

Basically, nothing has changed since 2019 when the Council formally decided to agree with both the High Court decision and the earlier decision by the Council not to proceed with the scheme. The figures just do not add up. To move the RDA would cost roughly the same amount as could be achieved for the site. It would also take over seven acres of land currently used for parkland either in Calderstones Park or at Clark Gardens. The miniature railway which has given so much pleasure to so many kids (and their dads!) would also need an expensive move or closure. The whole idea is just not socially or financially viable.

We immediately held meetings with senior officers and appraised them of the past which considerably surprised them. Indeed, we were impressed that a very senior officer wanted to turn up at 07.30 in the morning and Andrew and Liz Makinson showed him round and talked through the issues with him.

Since then, nothing! So, to bring things to a head we have tabled the following motion to Council. We are doing this as a pre-emptive strike. We need to bring the issues to a head so that the Beechley House asset can be realised, and its sale price used to do capital works and save the council cost. We need to help Beechley RDA get a lease for grant application purposes. Needless to say we will keep you informed of what happens and call you to metaphorical arms via the Friends Group if action is required.

Green space, parks, canals, rivers and the natural environment are so important for our physical and mental wellbeing. The Council should not put this much-loved space at the heart of ‘Beatles land’ at risk.

Beechley House and the Harthill Estate

Andrew Makinson, Liz Makinson, Richard Kemp

Council notes with concern that officers of the Council have been working on an asset review of the Harthill section of Calderstones Park with a view to consolidating the land holdings there to enable a sale of the land.

It notes that attempts to do this in the past were thwarted by:

  • A High Court judgement that the land was part of the park and considered as such in the then UDP and reiterated in the new LDF
    • The realisation that the costs of moving the Riding for the Disable Association to another area would cost more than the value of the land.
    • That more than £41,000 was raised by residents to enable the High Court action to take place
    • That more than 51,000 people signed a petition to prevent the sale of the land to Redrow

That subsequent to all this the Council agreed not to proceed with development on the site on the suggestion of the former Mayor.

It also notes that consequent to this decision the Friends of Calderstones Park have raised more than £40,000 to turn the disused depot of a wildflower park.

Accordingly, it resolves that:

A full report be presented as a matter of urgency to Cabinet indicating:

  1. The acceptance of the former decision of the Council not to proceed with development.
  2. The granting of a lease to the Beechley RDA which would include land previously occupied by the now defunct Calder Kids adventure playground for disabled children.
  3. The granting of a lease to the Miniature Railway.
  4. A full lease to the Friends of Calderstones Park for the former depot site.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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