But critics of Redrow scheme say council is jumping the gun
A timetable has been drawn up for a new miniature railway and station in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park.
It comes after a Beeching-style axe was placed on the existing 75-year-old railway, a magical, meandering woodland route, close to the Harthill Road entrance to the park.
House builder Redrow wants to build more than 50 luxury homes on the land, a slice of the Calderstones Harthill Estate which Liverpool City Council insists is not part of the park.
The council has now announced the anticipated opening date of the relocated railway, expected before the end of this year, ahead of the application coming before the city council’s planning committee today.
It says the proposed relocation, to an area facing Menlove Avenue, will allow more families the opportunity to enjoy a ride on one of two battery electric locomotives.
But critics of the plan for a major housing estate at Calderstones see it as premature as they continue their fight against the Redrow proposals.
The move, says the council, would see the Merseyside Live Steam and Model Engineers club gain a significantly improved track and brand new clubhouse facilities.
The proposed site in the park is currently used for informal recreation and lies adjacent to an area that was previously used for the International Tennis Tournament.
Deputy Mayor Councillor Ann O’Byrne said: “The Miniature Railway is a much-loved facility which has been used by generations of local families. This proposal would see it moved to a more prominent location giving them improved and enhanced facilities and enabling even more people to enjoy it in the future.”
In line with its policy of denying that plots of greenspace it wants for housing aren’t actually within parks (e.g. Sefton Park Meadows), the council says the proposed move is linked to wider plans to redevelop several parcels of land off Harthill Road to create 51 new homes under the umbrella of the Liverpool Housing Partnership.
“Relocating the popular miniature railway is the first element in a scheme that would also see Beechley Riding Stables – part of the Riding for the Disabled Association – receive help to relocate and develop new, improved facilities at Clarke Gardens, in Allerton; while the CalderKids Adventure Playground, whose existing premises have already been deemed unfit for purpose, will be able to fulfil relocation plans to much better facilities,” says the council.
Relocation of the riding stables is currently the subject of a feasibility study by the city council, while an appropriate venue has been identified for Calderkids and discussions with the landowner are ongoing.
Redrow Homes’ plans include “sensitive restoration of the Grade II listed Beechley House” to create six apartments and two duplex units, with its summer house converted to one self-contained property. The stables would be converted into three mews properties and there would be four new-build mews adjacent to Beechley House.
Thirty five brand new detached family homes would make up the remainder.
The wider scheme is being put forward by the Liverpool Housing Partnership, a collaboration between Liverpool City Council, Redrow Homes and Liverpool Mutual Homes to provide 1,500 new homes across the city over a five year period.
Capital receipts to the city council from the sale of the land would support the relocation of the stakeholders, as well as off-site affordable housing and a fund for improvements within Calderstones Park itself.
At least a new railway in Calderstones might be seen as some small consolation for Liverpool missing out on HS2 coming into the city, and instead terminating at Wigan.
It's a top model, say the train chaps
Arthur Brooks, chairman of the Merseyside Live Steam and Model Engineers club (that's not him in the picture) said: “Our current facility is restrictive in its size and access, limiting the size of the locomotives we can use and the number of visitors to the club. By relocating to an enhanced facility in the park itself this will increase the visibility of the club, encouraging more visitors whilst also permitting the club to run a greater variety or selection of locomotives on the new improved track. The proposed new clubhouse facilities are welcomed by the club.”
He added: “The new layout of both tracks with larger radii will greatly increase the safety factor and, with the proposed new clubhouse facilities, it will make it more suitable for the disabled and people with walking problems to have full access.”
The club continues to operate on a Sunday at 2pm, weather permitting, but will be looking to increase the hours of operation once the miniature railway is established in its new location and interest in the club grows.
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