Approval for miniature railway move

PLANNING approval has been granted to relocate a popular Liverpool family attraction to a new base inside Calderstones Park. The application to move the Liverpool miniature railway to a new home was discussed at Liverpool City Council’s planning committee in Liverpool Town Hall this morning (25 July). Volunteers from the Merseyside Live Steam and Model Engineers club have been running the miniature railway for around 75 years and have set out the plan to revamp their operation. The relocation from an area off Harthill Road to a central position within the park itself will allow more families the opportunity to enjoy a ride on one of two battery electric locomotives. The move will also see the Merseyside Live Steam and Model Engineers club gain a significantly improved track and brand new clubhouse facilities. The 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.” Club chairman Arthur Brooks 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. “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.” Now that planning permission has been given, it is hoped that the club and the miniature railway will be relocated by the end of 2017. 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. 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. 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. With the miniature railway, Beechley Riding Stables and CalderKids relocated, the land they currently occupy could be redeveloped for a total of 51 new homes, associated landscaping and public open space. Those plans, already submitted to the city council, include sensitive restoration of the Grade II listed Beechley House to create six apartments and two duplex units, with its summerhouse 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.