Sefton Council has today published a report containing the results of the public consultation and next steps of the ambitious improvement scheme for Botanic Gardens in Churchtown.

Working with an independent consultant, the Council’s Green Sefton service undertook a seven-month long public consultation in 2023. It collected views from over 1,150 residents, businesses and visitors and will be used to steer the longer-term vision for the park.

When asked about improvements to the park, 81% of respondents said that they would like to see improvements to the lake, 72% of respondents would like improved planting. The restoration of the buildings was supported by 71% of respondents.

Alongside physical improvements, people were asked what activities they would like to see on offer in the park and what type of events they would attend. Almost 70% of respondents said they would like to see boats for hire, while festivals (64%) and family fun days (59%) were the most popular types of events.

The report outlines the next steps which includes adopting a vision for Botanic Gardens, using the consultation findings to develop more detailed plans, and to explore match funding options for the first phases of the scheme.

Still subject to further development, the vision will celebrate Botanic Gardens’ historic importance and develop new attractions that would bring more visitors to the park, stimulating the local economy and creating new jobs. Reinvestment into park maintenance and management, which will be measured by Green Flag standards, will seek to secure the long-term future of the park for generations to come.  

Botanic Gardens Community Association volunteers at the Botanic Gardens family Fun Day. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

Botanic Gardens Community Association volunteers at the Botanic Gardens family Fun Day. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

As the council doesn’t have the capital resources to fund these works itself, opportunities for match and grant funding will be explored. The most suitable funding streams will be identified, and subsequent bids will be submitted.

The funding required is expected to be in the region of £7.3 million overall. Because it is not likely that all match funding will be available immediately, nor that a single funder would meet the full costs anticipated, a phased approach is likely to be required.

Cllr Mhairi Doyle, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said

“Southport’s Botanic Gardens has historical significance and is listed on Historic England’s ‘Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

“Our Green Sefton team continue to work alongside a number of dedicated community groups who care deeply about the future of the park and are keen to see improvements that benefit everyone who loves spending time there.

“Together with the pre development work, this has been one of the most successful public consultation exercises that Green Sefton has seen. I thank everyone who took part as the results are an invaluable tool as we continue to develop the improvement scheme and identify funding opportunities.”

Volunteers at the Fernery at the Botanic Gardens in Churchtown in Southport

Volunteers at the Fernery at the Botanic Gardens in Churchtown in Southport

While the report remains subject to call-in, the next step for the scheme is to develop a Stakeholder Group to begin exploring match funding opportunities. 

Last year, working in partnership with the dedicated volunteers of the Botanic Garden Community Association and the ‘Make A Change’ group, Green Sefton have already completed some short-term improvement works. These include the installation of two floating fountains that aerate the water in the lake, which was completed using funding raised by the Make A Change group.

Botanic Gardens Community Association is a long-standing voluntary group overseeing maintenance and activities at the park. Anyone interested in volunteering or getting involved in the project can contact the group at https://botanicgardensca.org.uk/

People can find out more about Botanic Gardens in Churchtown at www.sefton.gov.uk/Botanic-Gardens

The old Botanic Gardens Museum in Churchtown in Southport in October 1984

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