PLANS have been submitted to turn Victoria Park into a caravan site for upto 108 days a year – whicha would be ‘catastrophic for local families.’
A planning application has been submitted to Sefton Council by the Victoria Park Management Company for permission to close all areas of the park on Rotten Row fully (day and night) for 108 days as well as partially for an additional 35 days per year.
Victoria Park is one of the major outdoor event spaces in Southport and is the site of the Southport Flower Show, Fireworks Championships and Southport Air Show. It is also used by Victoria Park Bowling Club and Southport Radio Car Club, who have an outdoor track at the park.
The consultation on the plans runs until this Sunday (May 17).
Champion reader Kevin Gibney said: “The park was leased to the Southport Flower Show charity at a peppercorn rent to allow them to organise the flower show in 1987.
“The application states it will be closed for event days – which means closing to allow caravans on the park. Regular visitors have seen its increasing use as a caravan site for the last few years.
“It seem that the Victoria Park Management Company rent out the park to regional caravan clubs – one, on their website, already describes Victoria Park as a temporary caravan site at which they rent out pitches! There already is a caravan site immediately adjacent to the park with 171 serviced pitches and a number of other sites in the area.
“In the current year 2020 the park is already rented out for 82 days for caravans and it is worth noting that apart from the Southport Flower Show, which has been cancelled, there are only two other non-caravan events booked.
“The loss of amenity to the local residents would be catastrophic as there are very few open spaces in the area. It is used extensively by local families and older residents who live in the many flats in the area that do not have a garden. This application should be rejected!”
Alan Adams, general manager of the Victoria Park Management Company and Southport Flower Show said: “It is not always recognised that the Southport Flower Show is a charity and any profit made is reinvested into the much-loved show which has been a significant part of the town for over 90 years.
“It also supports the maintenance and administration of Victoria Park, our beautiful 34-acre site which has housed the show since it began.
“The recent planning application that was submitted to Sefton Council requests an extension to the number of days we are allowed to close the park which is necessary to raise much needed income and even more so now that the Flower Show has been cancelled. The proposals also include the intention to bring new events to the park which in return brings more people into our fabulous town thus benefiting the local economy.
“There is a balance to be made with closing the park and keeping it open to the public as often as possible. We need to close the park to generate income which in turns pays for the maintenance and management of the estate. Without this, the park would suffer and the facilities may not be available for all to enjoy.
“We have lost a number of events over the years (due to set limitations of the lease) which makes the decision more difficult to turn down caravan rallies that want to hire Victoria Park. Whilst regular users of the park do not want to see it turned into a caravan site, we are very much looking at organising different events on the park. We lease the park off Sefton Council therefore, it is vital that we raise income by closing the park for events whether this be a caravan rally, flower show or music festival. We may not use the additional days requested however by having the option, gives us flexibility on the events we can hold at the park.
“We are very proud of how Victoria Park is maintained and very much understand why local residents like to use the park. However, it would not be as well-kept if we do not receive income from the events we hold on Victoria Park.”