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Trees at Court Hey Park

Improvement works planned for Court Hey Park

by Gemma Melling

Knowsley Council has ambitious plans for its parks and green spaces  across the borough with many already benefiting from investment that has delivered a range of improvements – from new community buildings and improved pathways through to new play areas and wildflower displays.

Now, a masterplan has been developed with partners as well as feedback from park users about what their priorities are to enhance the award-winning Court Hey Park. The proposals would provide even more spaces for the community to enjoy. The plans are centred around the park’s heritage and legacy which stretches as far back as the 1800s.

Already, investment has been secured for the Public Decarbonisation Scheme at the site. This has enabled the main central courtyard buildings to be brought back into public use and has also supported the opening of an on-site café and public toilet at Espositos.

Now, the courtyard and walled garden have become a hive of activity with community hubs at the heart of the park, utilised by two organisations for the benefit of the community including One Knowsley and Incredible Edible Knowsley. Throughout the park a range of other community organisations provide important health and wellbeing services, these include Barry’s Bikes and Merseycycle, Pedal Away, Whitefield Cricket Club, Court Hey Bowls and Espositos Café.

As part of the development of a new masterplan for Court Hey Park, a number of condition survey has been undertaken of the millennium building. Unfortunately due to the unconventional design and construction of the building, it is beyond practical or economic repair. The building has been closed to the public for safety reasons since 2017 and takes up a large proportion of the central park space.

A two-phased approach to the park improvements has been proposed. Given the safety and cost implications of the millennium building, the first phase will be the removal of this building. This would then progress into phase 2 and the delivery of the masterplan, creating a range of improvements including:-

  • Safe walking routes across the site which are currently shared with vehicles.
  • Space created from phase one will improve and support the growing community hub at the heart of the park.
  • The creations of a secondary open courtyard area with a public facing building for Incredible Edible would open up into the sunken garden and wider park. This would also create improved facilities for the community food club, education and storage.
  • The garden wall of the original walled garden would also be repaired.
  • The garden areas of the former National Wildflower Centre would be enhanced and re-opened to the public as an ecology awareness zone. This would build on the legacy and heritage of Court Hey Park as a location for ecological innovation, experimentation and community engagement.
  • Provision of additional infrastructure for sports and fitness activities across the park.
  • Creation of new public realm between the stables and rose garden.
  • Improvements to the car park area, including more spaces, resurfacing and lighting.

Staff will be on hand at the Knowsley Flower Show at Court Hey Park on Sunday 6 August from 11am until 5pm to hear what residents think about the proposals and answer any questions.

Further community engagement work will be carried out in the coming months to further refine the plans based on feedback and the Council will begin to identify potential funding sources to deliver the plan.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said “Court Hey Park is full of rich history and heritage and is a very much valued community asset. We want to ensure that it provides the very best facilities for our communities to enjoy and that is what the masterplan aims to achieve – more usable spaces for our communities and creating a legacy for the Wildflower Centre.”

Jacqueline Yemm, Chair, Friends of Court Hey Park, added “Court Hey Park is a treasured local park and we were delighted when the park was recognised as a local favourite in a recent national award scheme, organised by Fields in Trust.

“We are committed to ensuring that our communities enjoy all that Court Hey Park has to offer – both now and in future years.

“We are delighted to work with Knowsley Council to see the park go from strength to strength and look forward to being part of its future development. We would encourage attendees at this weekend’s Flower Show to come along and have a look at these exciting proposals.”