What Now For Liverpool’s Sefton Park? (A Monday Women Debate)

Sefton Park06.7.30  (middle lake, small) 009.jpg Plans for Sefton Park are taking shape rapidly – as are ideas for several of Liverpool’s other Parks. Monday Women decided to have a debate; points from our discussion follow. Your contributions on how Liverpool’s Parks should be developed are also most welcome.
Sefton Park Cherry Trees 06.5.5 009.jpg Meeting up with other Monday Women this evening, one very hotly discussed topic of conversation was the merits or otherwise of plans for Sefton, Otterspool and Newsham Parks. Amongst the issues considered, of course, was the fate of the cherry trees by the middle lake.
It’s actually very heartening that so many people wanted to talk about these plans in detail, and to continue the discussion elsewhere. We therefore came up with the idea of making this topic a ‘main’ item on my website…. so here it is!
I’ll kick off with a few thoughts on plans for Sefton Park, in my own locality (years ago, this would have been Newsham Park, so I have something of a ‘compare and contrast’ perspective on developments).
The main issues in contention for Sefton Park currently seem to include:
Eco- Solar 06.7.15 031.jpg * Do we want lighting, or bats? (Maybe we want both; how about ground-level lighting of the southern, presently non-lit, paths.. which would also remove any concerns about strollers being well-lit, and supposed potential assailants lurking invisibly in bushes ‘behind’ the lights) How will we ensure that the vibrant wild and bird life of the park is nurtured?
* Why are the only toilets in the Park in the Central Kiosk? (The Palm House has some, of course, but they are not open to the public.)
Sefton Park 06.7.11&12 024 Waterway grot.jpg * Do people realise that the Park is far from ‘natural’? (Conservation is a managed process; many trees, bushes and supplings have just grown as they will, and some of these probably do need to be removed.)
* How will the intended new waterways be designed? And how will they be kept clean and clear?
* Has anyone realised that, if the attached allotments (apparently controlled not by Parks & Gardens, but by Recreation & Leisure…) are drained to remove waterlogging, there is a fear that the water will cascade across the Park?
Sefton Park 06.5.25 Bandstand 024.jpg * What sorts of performance space/s are intended for the Park? Will these be all-weather, and who will manage them?
* Is there any scope for a pleasant meeting place / restaurant at the south end of the Park, and what will become of the Central Kiosk? Will there be any public art?
* Where will young people be able safely to congregate in the evening and at weekends, whilst younger children, families and older people can continue to enjoy the quieter aspects of the facility?
There are lots of questions, some of them quite fundamental, in the issues being raised, so it’s good to be able to report that we can expect a Public Exhibition and Consultation on the Sefton Park proposals, cum December. Watch this space for details!
And, in the meantime, please do carry on the debate right here. (NB You don’t have to publish your details; the only check we make on this website is that you are not a spammer!) We all look forward to hearing your views, below…
See also: Sefton Park’s Grebes And Swans
Liverpool’s Sefton Park, Swans, Herons And Grebes

Sefton Park, Liverpool: Winter Solstice 2006
Cherry Blossom For May Day In Sefton Park, Liverpool
Cherry Picking Liverpool’s Sefton Park Agenda
Liverpool’s Sefton Park Trees Under Threat – Unnecessarily?
Solar Lighting Could Solve The Parks Problem
Friends Of Sefton Park

Posted on November 7, 2005, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, Equality, Diversity And Inclusion, Liverpool And Merseyside, Monday Women, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience, Sustainability As If People Mattered, The Journal. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I was in Sefton Park the other day and noticed a “Friends of…” leaflet asking for ideas to raise in their next meeting and was just wondering if it’s possible to set up a Bluetooth thing for people who’ve lost their dogs (or children, I suppose. At a push). There seemed to be a few strays and a few anxious owners this last summer.

  2. I’ve just chanced on this discussion today – far too late to have any input at all.
    This is my biggest gripe with the current, and most of the past, Liverpool Politburos is that they don’t go out and seek peoples ideas and reactions.
    I suppose that we have to be at least grateful that Stanley and Sefton Parks are being brought back to a standard they would had they been properly funded and maintained over the years.
    But where is the coherent strategy on public open space/play space. Other cities like Sheffield, Birmingham and, of course London have parks which are thronging with a wide range of activities from botanical gardens to pop groups (Remember when they had Larks in the Parks and teh Sunday groups at Otterspool Cafe).
    Many communities in Liverpool are still being robbed of their public spaces like Speke whose football pitches were taken by Peel Holdings John Lennon Airport with a broken promise that they would be replaced. The same broken promise when the runway was extended.
    We need public open spaces with stimulus for everyone or we risk people making prisons of their own homes. Now we just squabble over the little we have.

  3. Nice to see some improvements to the park. Does anybody know what work (if any) is going on behind the hoardings near Greenbank.
    What are they building / developing? The hoardings look so ugly and seem to have been there for a long time

  4. hello all
    decided to take my kids to sefton park today because i grew up around lark lane area and spent most weekends in sefton park fishing , boating , picknic, and stuff , i hadent been in recent years as i moved away from liverpool and my dad said he had been to the park to see how restorations where going ( i didnt know about em )
    anyways couldnt belive my eyes when we drove upto the old car park where snake water fountain is , i cant put my feelings into words here as it wont be taken to kindly but here goes on a few concerns .
    on the subject of lighting i agree with low level lights on footpaths around main lake and paths , what the hell has happend to all the fish that where in the lake as many of my relatives going back over 80 years have stocked the lake and have spent many a day fishing tere , the bed of the lake is absouloute disgrace and if the job is to be done right what further work is to be carried out on the lake or is it going to remain a lawned area ” its been empty so long “.
    presume the south end of the lake is the main entrance where the old boat houses and the jettys used to be , i think the suggestion of a ” quality yet affordable ” cafe is a much needed facility there , many a time we have taken kids there in winter for walk and gone in the old cafe by peter pan statue for coffee and chips to get warm , the current facility is an embarrasment to the city “” nothing to do with current propriotors”” lack of maintenance and funding i summise.
    what are the proposals for parking facilitys at the main entrance as car park seems to be reduced in size ” have ya seen this car park in summer months ? “,
    a decent cafe on the site of the old boat house to the right of main entrance would be superb idea and i truley belive would be a fantastic attraction to the park , my 6 yo daughter said today dady why is there no play area here you said it was a park , how do you explain vandalism and lack of funding to a 6 yo wanting to play ?.
    lets hope the cafe does go ahead and any childrens play area is up to a modern day standard and vandal proof as far as can be , ” lets remember the kids are our future ” lets make sure its future proof well into the next century and as fantastic as i remember it as a kid .
    i do cincerly hope
    (1) the lake gets re stocked with fish and is restored to a fantastic standard ,
    (2) the cafe does get built on old boat house site ,
    (3) the kids get decent play facilities
    (4) lighting is installed but in an inconspicuious way so as not to intrude on natural beauty but facilitates evening walks in a more secure and safe mannor ,
    (5) i just hope and prey what looks like a botch job is not a further emmbarasment for much longer as i was utterly discusted at the state of the park and it must have been like this all summer as grass was growing on bed of lake about 9 ” deep .
    ps can i add a
    (5.1) ide love to see the return of boats for hire on the lake on weekends and holidays as liverpool is a world class city and to say the parks are not used as much is a noncense get a decent cafe and boats etc back and possibly a visible ranger service and watch the park bloom once again .
    hope a didnt rattle on too much but was sick today when i saw state of sefton park just hope my kids grow to see what i remember as a fantastic facility for good days out . pps love the squirrels to tc all alan.

    Opening date: Sunday 29th June 2008
    Two superb private gardens previously unseen by the public, plus ninety city allotments, will open their gates to for the first time as part of the celebration of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year 2008.
    The garden of the University of Liverpool’s Vice-Chancellor, Drummond Bone, has previously only been seen by the select few at Graduation garden parties. The large garden in the Toxteth area of Liverpool boasts a rare collection of old shrub roses, a grand formal terrace, grape vine and mature shrub borders. Contact Vivian Bone: 0151 728 8375
    Nearby is the new and developing garden of one of Liverpool’s old merchant houses, Park Mount, overlooking Sefton Park. Here gardener Jeremy Nicholls has been creating a glorious garden using vibrant colours and adventurous planting combinations, with some surprises and many rare plants.
    Contact: Jeremy Nicholls 0151 733 8205 / 07802 676242
    The ninety allotments in Sefton Park will show how well a city plots can provide fruit and vegetables of the highest quality, offering inspiration to other city gardeners. The site includes many interesting community facilities and a plot adapted for disabled gardeners. The site has featured in national TV and film productions – see the ‘Bread’ shed where Lilo Lil held her trysts on plot 89. Contact: Giulia Harding 0151 727 4877
    All the above will open their gates for charity on Sunday June 29th 2008, under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme.
    Sefton Park Palm House will be at the centre of the celebrations with rare and unusual plants for sale, musical entertainment and afternoon tea, and demonstrations from the National Association of Flower Arrangers. Contact: Rosemary on 0151 726 9304.
    Admission is £4.00 with tickets available at all four venues on the day.
    Contact Information:
    Christine Ruth, Press Officer, National Garden Scheme, Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester. 0151 727 4877 / 07740 438994


  7. On a recent visit to otterspool park i gazed in wonderment at the old cafe, this is now in need of major refurbishment, since my visit I have wondered why this beutiful venue is not used to its full potential.
    Is there anyone who could advise me if there are plans afoot to refurbish this potential asset to the local area.
    Many thanks in anticipation Ian Moore

  8. Golf!!!! I never use exclamation marks, but man. golf in our parks. Yes let us abandon our great spaces, our retreat from urban living and family spaces to let a few play a single minority game.

  9. Denis Wainwright

    dear hilary
    did you know that the two oldest trees in the glade opposite the lark lane entrance have been cut down ? they were hundreds of years old, perfectly healthy and my friends. I used hug them.
    on the way home from lark lane ( abit bevvied!) thats how i know. Did you….. and why? :@


    As a keen but useless golfer who does not want to dress up like tiger woods or tony jacklin would it be possible for you to think about utilising one of our not so well used park fields for a nine or 18 hole Pitch and Putt links? I have the good fortune to be able to get to wallasy or southport to play but there are not any of these courses in the city parks. The council run course in wallasy costs £3 and you can puschase cold drinks,tea etc and it is always busy

  11. There ARE plans afoot for the refurbishment of Otterspool Park, but I don’t know about the cafe. I will try to find out.

  12. Liked the info available. Would like to ask you about disused cafe in otterspool park.How would I find out if it was for sale or rent?
    Could you please point me in the right direction?

  13. To CHW: I’m really glad people are finding this site from outside the process – it’s important that the consultation is as wide as possible. We want the council to put the panels from the exhibition on permanent display, perhaps in the cafe, and they ought certainly to be available on the internet which they are not yet. When Stage 2 of the bid has been approved (it will be submitted in early January) we have to start pressing for the widest possible consultation on the detail.
    To T: there WILL be a children’s playground, but unfortunately proposals for additional sporting facilities will now be dependent on funding from other sources.
    The FRIENDS OF SEFTON PARK have a meeting arranged for 2.00p.m. on SUNDAY JANUARY 15th at THE OLD POLICE STATION, LARK LANE.
    Come along and make your presence felt!

  14. It may advance discussion if the word ‘aesthetics’ is left out, as it carries with it such historical baggage, and in white western Europe is too often seen as separate from ethics and politics, and, in this case, the broad eco / environmental issues. It’s not, of course, and is as much about power and its exercise, as anything else..
    We need to start with the reality of the park (and be open about that) and ideas for its use within the community. And listen to and consider the body of info. already assembled re. a PARK as opposed to a JUNGLE or wildelife reserve. A more holistic approach and consensus has to be achieved, before all the efforts so far amount to nothing, because v vocal indviduals with a singular view wish to dominate rather than accept the need for a strategic approach which will lay the foundations for the future sustainability of the park in the longer run.
    In any managed area of countryside or landscape, trees come down in ordee to improve sustainability (and in this case access to history too) and of course, there are trees which can be considered ‘vandals. Like people, trees need to be in the right place at the right time. . . . our human interventions need to be well-informed (and as I understand it, the group has sought advice). Time is also a factor here, not just in terms of growth, etc., but in terms of being taken seriously ass a group, and the project receiving the necessary support for big changes to be undertaken which can overall be considered as improvements.
    I couldn’t attend the last meeting; was it productive? peaceful? or a scrap?

  15. Hi – found your site through Google. Interesting read and appreciate the dedicated coverage; as I walk regularly in the park I’ve often wondered if it was going to get some attention in preparation for ’08. Sounds like it’s on course.
    What is the next step, now that the public displays have finished (or is there a place to view them online? (there should be)).

  16. Another suggested improvement from a local resident:
    restoration of children’s play facilities and education programmes for children.

  17. SCARY POSTERS have been appearing about tree losses – 360 will go, they say. But in fact we will GAIN 260 semi-mature trees and 1,200 smaller ones. Go along to the exhibition and SEE FOR YOURSELF – don’t believe everything you read (not even here!)

    will be on display at
    from SUNDAY 11th to WEDNESDAY 14th DECEMBER
    Go along and see for yourself – and give your views!

  19. Most of what J says is true, but now – in respect of Sefton Park at least – the money is within our grasp, so let’s forget the council’s inadequacies for the time being and have some positive discussion about how WE want it spent!
    The Management Forum’s last meeting before the public exhibition in December is this afternoon. I hope to post some information from that meeting here, and you can come to the cafe in the park at 2.00 next Sunday (December 4th) to talk about it with the Friends. And if you want to hear news about a lottery bid that’s already well under way, go along to the Friends of Birkenhead Park’s meeting in their new (lottery-funded) pavilion in the park at 2.00 next Saturday (December 3rd).

  20. What has been criminal regarding our parks has been the opportunities
    missed by this current council. Millions of Heritage Lottery Funding
    (inc £5m+ for Newsham) went begging because the Council failed to pull
    their finger out in time with the application.
    There is also real concern amongst a lot of people that the Council is
    engaged in a policy of ‘managed neglect’. Their own parks strategy
    makes mention of there being too much parkland for the size of
    population. This gives rise to the consideration of reducing the
    amount of parkland. As the Lib Dem Council continually states that
    Liverpool is a place on the up where people are coming all the time
    and people will want to relocate to, this seems strange.
    “Safe in our Hands” rings extremely hollow considering how parkland
    has been treated in the more run down areas of this city.

  21. The public exhibition of plans for lottery-funded works on Sefton Park will take place December 8th – 10th somewhere in the City Centre (more details later – watch this space) and December 11th – 14th in the Palm House.
    There’s been a lot of interesting discussion already and it would be good if as many people as possible would join in. It’s no use pretending that everyone wants the same things from the Park but it IS important that everyone feels they have had their say. There WILL be feedback from the exhibition, so please come and make your feelings known!
    The Park has in fact, like most urban parks, been neglected for the last thirty years or so. It is this fact that has led to the most controversial aspect of the plans: the need to remove self-seeded trees where these would interfere with the restoration of the waterways, or block vistas which were part of the original layout of the Park. I hope the exhibition will make clear how important both of these elements of the restoration will be: if anyone would like more details, please ask here. As Hilary says, the Park is a managed environment – it’s a mark of the brilliance of the design that it looks so natural, but it can’t just be left to look after itself. Even if you really like the picturesque way the waterways flood in winter, one day someone’s going to slip on the ice.
    We’ve also rather belatedly started to consider more ambitious ideas for catering in the Park: there is considerable interest in having a really good quality cafe – think Everyman bistro – on the site of the old boathouse at the Aigburth Vale end (not sure about cheerful waitresses, though – sleek and obsequious waiters perhaps?) The architect isn’t too pleased because he was only briefed to provide a kiosk on that site, but if you like the idea, please indicate your support.
    There WILL be a children’s playground, but other plans for sporting facilities seem, disappointingly, to have been dropped. Comments about this would be useful, too.
    As for toilets…that’s the one thing EVERYONE wants, but they are very expensive to maintain, which probably explains why the Council have closed every public toilet in the city and are not about to open any more if they can possibly avoid it. Let them know what you think.

  22. Dear Hilary,
    Since you asked . . .
    My main personal grouse with the two main parks is the quality of the cafes.
    The last time I went into the Calderstones cafe – shortly after it changed
    hands just after Labour came to power in Liverpool I walked straight out and
    have never been in since. I believe the proprieter of the Sefton Park cafe has done an excellent job but again, not everyone’s scene – can’t remember why but it may have been plastic cups and a chip-pan smell. There really is a need for old-fashioned tea-rooms in these places where cheerful waitresses serve
    traditional tea-room fare.
    For a Sunday afternoon jaunt I go to such places as Delamere or Ness Gardens but would often prefer one of the local parks – if they had suitable refreshment rooms.
    Lights or bats? Well, bats obviously. What business has anyone doing in a
    park after dark if they are not studying bats? Anyway, torches are cheap
    They seem to have been trying for years to ‘drain’ a length of Calderstones
    Park which seems obviously to have been at one time a stream. So, why not
    enhance the park by letting it be a stream? (Superb vistas across Calderstones
    now ruined by what looks like planting for plantings sake of trees). And as some wit remarked in the local press, if they bring the orchid house to Calderstones why would a forty feet high orchid house be necessary? – who has ever heard of forty feet high orchids?
    People really must admit that with modern transport and recreational
    facilities there is going to be less demand for park recreation, which was probably was a bit elitist in the first place. (Did the ‘workers’ really have all that much time to go to the park – didn’t they have better things to do on their Sunday’s off)? Park recreation has become even more of a minority activity – but even minorities have to be catered for. Perhaps more ‘events’ should be organized or publicised – plenty about ‘pops’ but when did you last read about the excellent ranger events in the local press? The lakes are certainly under-utilised. (I asked why once but have forgotten the answer). Events needn’t cost all that much – without bureaucracy people could probably organize events themselves.
    The Garden Festival site is a case apart. That’s going to be another lost
    opportunity No chance there of the first ‘urban wilderness’ or a woodland
    camp site for C of C year.
    Fact is Hilary our current politicians don’t care all that much about such
    things as these that you value.

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