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RAISING THE RALLA A transformational Community Hub and Garden for Kirkdale.

Proposal, feasibility and concept design brochure by The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC JANUARY 2019


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Raising the Ralla Brochure - 2019

CONTENTS 5

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Introduction

The Ralla Kirkdale 9

What and where is the Ralla?

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What exactly is the area owned by Liverpool City Council?

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What is the area the CIC is looking to manage?

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Welcome to the Ralla

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Overview of the CIC’s vision for the site

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Plans in further detail

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Site Diagrams

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The Ralla in recent years 31

Recent History of the site

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Mayoral proposals from 2016

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Past action taken by local residents

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For the people, by the people 40

The Power of community businesses

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The formation of a community Interest Company (CIC)

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Key team members

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The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC’s Community Interest Statement


Contents

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How can we be sure that this project will work? Engaging the local community

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Addressing security concerns

Growing a healthy community 54

Why is the site so important as a community space?

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Why is residential or commercial development at the Ralla not the answer for improving community life in Kirkdale?

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Why is the land not an obvious site for residential or commercial development?

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Liverpool City Council Ward Profiles

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Why is this site so important as a green space?

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A co-operative city 86 88

Benefits for the Local Authority in facilitating the CIC’s plans for the site. Costs and timescales

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List of potential funders

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Generation of revenue

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Why has the CIC never been permitted access to the site? Working alongside Liverpool City Council

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Closing statement

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Professional support, potential collaboration and Funders

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Raising the Ralla Brochure - 2019

Wandering through a disused railway tunnel into pristine woodland in Kirkdale was fabulously uplifting.

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Simon O’Brien, Chair of the Strategic Green and Open Spaces Review Board Final Report, 2016, p119.


Introduction

Introduction For many years, residents in Kirkdale have been keen to transform the abandoned land at the Ralla into a true asset for the local community. In 2018, residents formed a Community Interest Company (CIC) and put forward proposals to Liverpool City Council to take guardianship of the land and transform it into a financially sustainable, multi-purpose community hub for Kirkdale. The site would offer a broad range of activities, promoting health and wellbeing, environmmental awareness and sustainable practices. The project has already gained recognition and developmental funding from national support providers for community businesses. However, almost a year later, the CIC has still never been granted permission from the Council to get to work, so the land remains unused and abandoned.

The Ralla in Summer.

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Raising the Ralla Brochure - 2019


THE RALLA KIRKDALE


Raising the Ralla Brochure - 2019

With a little imagination and limited investment this site (which incidentally was identified as a potential park in the Unitary Development Plan (UDP)) could become a fabulous public park and part of the Green Corridor network linking Kirkdale station to the local community, the Leeds - Liverpool Canal and the city centre.

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Simon O’Brien, Chair of the Strategic Green and Open Spaces Review Board Final Report, 2016, p91.

Kirkdale

BankHall


The Ralla Kirkdale

What and where is the Ralla? The land is a designated Local Wildlife Site situated in Kirkdale on a disused railway cutting. The land is officially referred to as Melrose Cutting or Melrose Sidings, but is locally known as the Ralla. The land is owned by Liverpool City Council and covers around 8 acres, running alongside the railway from Kirkdale Station toward Sandhills. The land has been abandoned to nature for decades, and has grown into a unique natural oasis, bordering the industrial docklands. The great importance and beauty of Kirkdale’s site has been clearly recognised in various reports commissioned by the Council (see P.68 onwards). Upon visiting the site for the first time in 2016, Mayor Anderson described the site in his own words: “It really is a hidden jewel, a breath-taking piece of green space in North Liverpool with a lot of potential and we want to ensure that this significant site is maintained to be used by the local community.� However, more than 2 years on, the land continues to sit abandoned as it has done for decades, attracting anti-social behaviour. Source: (Left)Satellite view screen shot from Google maps, historic (1888-1913) map screen shot from National Library of Scotland. (Below) Satellite view screen shot from Google maps.

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What exactly is the area owned by Liverpool City Council?

What is the area the CIC is looking to manage?

Ralla Access


The Ralla Kirkdale

Network Rail access

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Welcome to


the Ralla

The Ralla Kirkdale

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Overview of the CIC’s vision for the site The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC (Community Interest Company) plans to transform the site into a community hub and garden for Kirkdale, offering a broad range of cultural activities, all set amongst approximately 6 acres of established woodland and grassland. The CIC would make the site a safe and healthy destination for local people, schools, resident artists and visitors to the city. The CIC was formed in the summer of 2018 by local residents who want to ensure that the site is best used to serve the many and diverse people who make up the local community. It is a social enterprise which would invest all profits back into improving Kirkdale. The CIC can access external funding from a wide range of sources, so this means that no funding is required from Liverpool City Council (see Potential Funders on P.90). The CIC wants to reach out into the local community to get as many people as possible involved in the project, building a stronger community and a greener, healthier neighbourhood for residents. The CIC has strong links with many other community organisations from all over Merseyside and beyond, who are ready to play a part in creating a unique asset for North Liverpool. (see Support and Partners on P.98)


The Ralla Kirkdale

This really is a unique opportunity for Kirkdale. It has an amazing asset at the Ralla which has been abandoned for generations. In order for the site to reach its full potential, it must be in the hands of the people who live here, who know the area and who truly want the best for the neighbourhood. It’s a project for the people, by the people. Anyone can join the CIC and play a part in improving the area. We have the professional support, we have the funding, we have hundreds of local people who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work on improving our neighbourhood. All that’s needed now is for Liverpool City Council to grant us access to the site so that everyone can get to work. If the Council wants the best for Kirkdale, then all they need to do is to let us get started. We’re here, we’re ready and we’re waiting. The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC.

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Plans in further detail Community cafĂŠ

Source picture: Peckam Springs bar, London.

The main hub of the site would be a welcoming and inclusive community cafe, built into one of the two former railway arches which provide access to the site at the Stanley Road end. A community cafe would provide a healthy alternative to the glut of fast-food counters dotted along Stanley Road. It would provide a warm and welcoming place for local people to meet, sit down and talk, with the option to get involved in the many social activities which would take place regularly on the site. The cafe can also incorporate a small community library, as the CIC also has access to around 5,000 books.


The Ralla Kirkdale

Community food garden and plant nursery

Source picture: Incredible Edible community food garden.

A community food garden would allow local people to get involved in volunteer gardening sessions, cultivating organic produce which could be used in the cafe, and which could be used in the warmer months in the preparation of weekly community meals. A similar and very successful activity has been run by Squash Liverpool at their site in L8. Their relatively small community garden has acted as a hub for community engagement for many years and has fostered a great sense of community for the many people which regularly attend. The land at the Ralla, particularly given its scale, presents enormous possibilities, both in terms of community engagement and production of local produce. A plant nursery would provide a complimentary and straightforward source of revenue to the site.

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Outdoor events space

Source picture: Ecological Garden of Vieux-Lille, city of Lille, France.

The potential for outdoor events is almost unlimited. Any outdoor event at the Ralla will be made unique simply by taking place in such amazing and unexpected urban woodland surroundings. A range of outdoor events can help to keep local residents active, healthy, engaged and enjoying life as part of the community.


The Ralla Kirkdale

Indoor events space

Source picture: Hoxton Arches museum and gallery, London.

The CIC would create an indoor events space in the second railway arch for community groups, clubs, schools, workshops and indoor events needing more space than would be available in the cafe, or as an alternative in bad weather for activities that could also function outside. We will invite many partner organisations and individuals from around the city to use the space and present a wide range of cultural activities for the residents of Kirkdale.

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Community composting

Source picture: Community compsting scheme, QuĂŠbec, Canada.

A scheme of community composting could be implemented throughout the local area, encouraging residents to bring their their organic waste for re-use in the garden. This would be a simple way of encouraging participation by the local community.


The Ralla Kirkdale

Public garden and nature reserve

Source picture: the Ralla, Kirkdale.

The site has been a designated Local Wildlife Site since 1997, and surveys have shown that it has supported one of the highest diversity of plant species in Liverpool (See Local Wildlife Site citation on P.76) The land is a unique and wonderful example of natural space, which the CIC is sure would have a hugely positive impact on the neighbourhood when opened up safely to the local community. The roughly 6 acres of the site which the CIC would like to manage holds possibly 1000 trees in varying stages of maturity.

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Studio space

Source picture: Art sur bois atelier, France.

The site can incorporate small units for studio space, aimed at local artist and makers, and can offer studio space for visiting makers/artists in residency.


The Ralla Kirkdale

Destination for local schools

Source picture:Welbeck Primary School in AM community garden, Nottingham.

The land presents a rare possibility to involve local schools. Literally thousands of pupils from the local schools could come to the site to learn about the importance of the natural environment; to learn about the trees and plants which help to keep Kirkdale’s polluted air clean, and the vast array of animal life which the Ralla supports.

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Site diagrams se

o elr

Rd

M

W es tm

int er

Legal area boundaries Train line Road line Liverpool-Leeds Canal Daylight Potential green area to be connected Mersey Rail access Train stations Bus Stops / Line

y Rd Stanle

Main access / potential second access / potential access from the Station Ecological Garden area

Commercial Rd

Path and glade / link with existing Canal Side park Community food garden Community cafe and events space in converted arches

Rd


The Ralla Kirkdale

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Kirkdale Station Ralla Site Network Rail access Path and Outdoor events space Nature Reserve Studio space Food Garden Terrasse Cafe and Events space in converted arches Plant Nursery


26 Raising the Ralla Brochure - 2019 Local Wildlife Site This important designated Local Wildlife Site can be opened up to the public and become the pride of Kirkdale.

Community food garden Residents of all ages will be able to take part in growing local produce.

Indoor event space We would work with partner organisations to provide a broad range of healthy activities for the community.

Community cafe A welcoming community cafe offering healthy food would be the hub of the site.


The Ralla Kirkdale

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Outdoor event space Any outdoor events at the Ralla would be made unique by taking place in such wonderful natural surroundings.

Destination for local schools Thousands of local children can come to the site to learn about the importance of the natural environment.

Artists’/makers’ studios The site can incorporate studio space for local artists and makers, and for visiting artists in residency. Projects reference: 1.Jardin Ecologique du Vieux-Lille, 2. The Bread Station London, 3. Railway by collectif ETC, 4. R-Urban farm.


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THE RALLA IN RECENT YEARS


Fires

Intravenous drug use

Fly tipping

Joyriding

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The Ralla in recent years

Recent history of the site Antisocial behaviour

The site is well fenced-off from the railway, but previous attempts to secure access to the site from the public areas have been extremely poor, leaving unrestricted access to the land for many years. Unsurprisingly, this has meant that the site has suffered badly from antisocial behaviour. The site is well known to both the police and fire services, and problems continue. Past problems with joyriding have left the burned out shells of motorbikes and cars on the land. Unfortunate homeless regularly use the site, and fires have been a regular occurrence in the railway arches which provide access to the land. The site has been a hotbed of intravenous drug use, and the site has been littered with hundreds of used syringes. Recent improvements to site security provide little barrier to those determined to access the land. The unfortunate homekess continue to seek shelter on the site, intravenous drug-users take advantage of its secluded location, and local kids continue to use the land as an unofficial playground. The first thing that the CIC would do with an agreement of access in place would be to improve the existing poor security measures in place. (See Addressing Security Concerns on P.48)

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The Ralla in recent years

Mayoral proposals from 2016 Following the publication of the Green and Open Spaces Review Board Final Report in 2016, commissioned by Liverpool City Council, Mayor Anderson visited the site and acknowledged its great importance as a potential community green space. Hopes were high in Kirkdale when plans were announced for a maintained park on the site.

I went down there to see and was absolutely amazed by how beautiful it is.

Mayor Anderson :

It really is a hidden jewel, a breath-taking piece of green space in North Liverpool with a lot of potential and we want to ensure that this significant site is maintained to be used by the local community. We are putting some funding into it and will be working with the community and other partners to protect and develop the site.

Mayor Joe Anderson in the Liverpool Echo article, 2016.

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Past action taken by local residents After years of continued neglect, and after offers by local residents to clear up the site had been rejected, the site was still abandoned and was continuing to attract antisocial behaviour. Residents felt that having an unofficial playground for local kids and an unofficial shelter for the homeless on land that was littered with used syringes was a totally unacceptable situation for Kirkdale.

A number of local volunteers began accessing the site in order to clear up the dangerous drug paraphernalia and rubbish. For many months, a team of local people in high-visibility jackets and protective clothing were working on site in plain view throughout the day with litter-pickers and bin-bags. The syringes were safely removed from the site and stored. Once a week, the filled bags of rubbish were transported around the neighbourhood ready for disposal.


The Ralla in recent years

Over the course of several months, volunteers filled and removed almost 200 bin-bags of rubbish. Somewhere in the region of 600 used syringes, a great many with needles still attached, were safely removed from the site and stored. The land was already beginning to look like a public garden. Given that nobody had ever questioned the work being carried out, volunteers continued to work on site, clearing rubbish, clearing undergrowth and treating the Japanese knotweed on site which has been left to run riot for decades.

After months of work, a local resident was finally stopped on leaving the site and formally warned against entering again, at which point all work by local residents on the site was immediately halted. By this point, more had been achieved on site in a matter of months by local people than had otherwise been achieved in many, many years. Part of the site had already been transformed by the goodwill and hardwork of the local community, at zero cost to Liverpool City Council. Since work has stopped, the site is again abandoned. It is again filling up with litter, and continues to attract antisocial behaviour.

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The Ralla in recent years

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FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE


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The power of community businesses During these troubled times for the UK economy, community businesses in Liverpool are thriving. In times of austerity, when Liverpool City Council is having to address such considerable budgetary cuts across the board, the answer does not necessarily have to be found in selling off its assets to developers. A much better answer can often be found much closer to home. It’s hard to find a better example than Granby, where a community-led initiative is transforming the area in a way which has surpassed all expectations, and which has received national recognition. Homebaked CLT is another glowing example of the quality of delivery that community-led organisations have brought to the city, and just what a tremendously positive impact their presence can have for so many local residents. The list of successful community businesses in Liverpool goes on and on, and this sector is establishing itself as a major contributor to the financial health of the city. One thing that all these successful community-led businesses have in common is that their focus is not on maximising profits for shareholders; it’s about generating revenue which can be ploughed back into ensuring the future health and wellbeing of the communities that they serve. This is what the Ralla project can do for Kirkdale. The sole purpose of the company is to serve Kirkdale and to invest any profits back into the local area. And it would do this at no cost to the local authority.


For the people, by the people

Corbyn on Granby:

More importantly, they’ve managed the process far, far better than top-down, outsourced efforts because they know and care about the area that they are part of. We’ve learned from the success of Granby Street that it is local people who are best placed to make the key decisions for their own area. And that’s why empowering local people to take control of their communities will be at the very heart of what our government wants to do all over the country. Jeremy Corbyn, speaking in September 2018 about the success of Liverpool’s Granby 4 Streets CLT.

Source: Picture in the Liverpool Echo.

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The formation of a Community Interest Company (CIC) A Community Interest Company was formed in the summer of 2018 so that local residents would have a formal vehicle to solicit guardianship of the site which has lain abandoned for years. An agreement to use the land is all that is required to be able to get to work on transforming the site into the community hub which they feel Kirkdale deserves and desperately needs.

What is a Community Interest Company?

A Community Interest Company (CIC) is a type of company designed for social enterprises which want to use their profits and assets for the public good. CICs come in various forms. The structure of The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC is that of a CIC limited by guarantee with a large membership. This format provides the opportunity for local residents, or anyone else, to become a member of the company and play an active role in the company’s governance. This model was chosen because it is a highly democratic and inclusive form of CIC.


For the people, by the people

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Key team members Many people are involved in the Ralla project in one way or another, and the team is constantly growing. The project’s three current directors all live in Kirkdale: Fred Newman - Fred has lived in Kirkdale since 2011 and enjoyed walking on the land at the Ralla for many years before access was restricted. Fred’s broad professional experience has been put to good use in the process of incorporation of the Community Interest Company, writing the Ralla documentation and successfully securing developmental funding for the project. Myriam Lahnite - Myriam trained as an architect in Lille, France. She completed an MA in Urban Sociology in partnership with the University of Liverpool, focusing on the re-use of disused land by community organisations. As part of her research, Myriam worked alongside Squash Liverpool, Granby 4 Streets CLT and Homebaked CLT, and was inspired by the effects that these organisations have had on their respective areas of Liverpool. Tom Branton - Tom grew up in Crosby and trained as a geologist, before taking an interest in organic farming. Tom has worked at Rice Lane City Farm for many years, gaining broad experience in both urban farming and community-focused business management. Tom is also a skilled carpenter, and has designed and built several of the farm’s outbuildings, using a combination of traditional English and Japanese techniques. The project also owes tremendous thanks to Jane Edwards, who has lived in Kirkdale for most of her life, and who has known the Ralla since she was a child. Jane has been a constant source of optimism and support, and continues to play a key role in community engagement. We would also like to give big thanks to all of our supporters, particularly from the local community, but also from the many community organisations throughout Merseyside who have been so kind in lending their experience, wisdom and energy to this project for Kirkdale!


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The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC's Community Interest Statement:

The CIC aims to take guardianship of an abandoned, 1. council-owned green space of approximately 6 acres in Kirkdale, which is currently locked up to the local community, and to create an ecological garden on the site. Kirkdale borders the industrial docklands and has very little in terms of public green space or tree-lined streets. We will provide free access (excepting specific occasional events) to a well maintained, naturalistic green space for the enjoyment of the local and wider community.

promote and exemplify environmentally 2. Tosustainable practices in all aspects of the business. It is in the benefit of every community to have local enterprises which promote and exemplify respect and care for the natural environment. We aim to run this CIC in a manner which minimises, wherever possible, any negative impact on the global natural environment, and which promotes and exemplifies sound ecological and sustainable practises.

3. To run volunteer community gardening sessions.

Much of the housing in Kirkdale has only very small gardens or simply back yards. Volunteer gardening sessions will give local residents the opportunity to work with nature and to play a part in shaping and maintaining the site, thereby giving local people a greater sense of ownership of the green space as a community asset, and also strengthening community spirit.


For the people, by the people

4.

5.

To create and manage a community cafe. Kirkdale currently has very few options in terms of seated food destinations or social hubs which foster community spirit and engagement. We aim to provide local residents with a community cafe; a healthy alternative to the glut of fast-food counters which line the neighbouring streets. We aim to provide a welcoming, inclusive place where residents can come to sit down to order healthy, affordable food and drinks, meet one another and socialise. The cafe will also provide employment opportunities.

To create and run an events space Kirkdale is currently incredibly limited in terms of culture. We aim to provide a space in which we can work with other organisations and individuals to provide local residents with a raft of community and cultural events and workshops which will be able to foster greater community and cultural engagement. The workshops will provide useful skills for both work and leisure. We also aim to provide residencies for visiting artists and craftspeople who can use their skills to either inspire or give workshops to local residents, or to improve the site for community benefit.

If the company makes any surplus it will be used for‌ The profits from the company will be used primarily for the improvement of the site and its facilities, but we would also be interested in promoting green community initiatives in the wider Kirkdale area.

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How can we be sure that this project will work? The project would be implemented and managed by people who know and love the area, and who truly want the best for Kirkdale.

The CIC’s model is financially sustainable and will require no external funding after the initial infrastructure is in place The CIC has a fabulous network of professional support from all over Merseyside and beyond; organisations and individuals who are all ready to come together to create a unique community asset for Kirkdale (see Support and Partners on P.98). The reaction from other local residents has been overwhelmingly positive. The only opposition that the CIC has encountered has been from residents worried about the land being open to antisocial behaviour, or about funds being diverted from the community’s many other needs. When it has been explained that the project requires no Council funding, that potential security issues are being addressed, and that the site would be locked up at dusk, there have been no other concerns raised. Even without being able to access the land, the project has already garnered the support and financial backing of major funders for community businesses. With an agreement in place to get work started on the land, the funding would become much, much more straightforward and the CIC could get to work on accessing larger-scale funding.


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Engaging the local community To introduce the CIC and the project to the rest of Kirkdale, we delivered around 2,500 flyers through local letterboxes, inviting residents to come and meet us or have a look at the project online. For many months, the CIC has been holding regular gettogethers around Kirkdale. We began this simply in order to introduce the project to people within the area, to get their thoughts about it, and to get an idea of what they would like to see happen at the Ralla. However, we decided to continue the monthly meetings, as it has been such a breath of fresh air to meet other local residents and simply have a chat, as there are so few occasions to do this in the area. We’ve also had litter-picking sessions around Kirkdale. The project has received overwhelming support, and we have received an incredible amount of offers to help from people from all over Merseyside, both in person and online, who would like to get involved in working together to create a brighter future for Kirkdale. It has been with much regret that we have had to repeatedly explain that we are still unable to access the land and get to work.


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Addressing security concerns Security and public safety are key issues for the site. Its low elevation and high surrounding walls means that the site currently feels fairly secluded and cut off from the rest of Kirkdale, and has therefore unsurprisingly suffered from antisocial behaviour. However, the very fact that the land is so well enclosed by a high wall on one side, and by the railway on the other, should be a great advantage to security with more effective measures in place. The site’s history of antisocial behaviour is mainly due to the poor security measures currently in place. The CIC would immediately address this. The site must stop being a hidden area within the neighbourhood, as it has been for so long, but open access to the Ralla just isn’t suitable. The land would always be manned when open, and the site would become a hub of activity. Improved, effective security measures would need to be implemented. The diagram on P.51 shows that there would be only one point of pedestrian access to the site. There would be fenced and gated areas providing access to both the main entrance to the site, and also from the cafe/events space onto the land itself. All visitors would be welcomed onto the site, and the land would be securely locked up at dusk. The additional security meaures are a necessity. However, the CIC would make the site a hub of activity for local residents, and a source of pride for Kirkdale. The very fact that the site would become a vibrant community hub, run by the people for the people, would also act as a strong security measure in itself.


For the people, by the people

A kiosk at street level formerly formerly sold sweets, cigarettes and newspapers, but has been abandoned for many years, adding to the general feeling of neglect in the neighbourhood. This currently acts as a point of easy access to the site. The CIC would rejuvenate and re-purpose the kiosk, and stop this being an access point. The second photo shows the entrance arches. This area is now very overgrown and secluded. The further arch has been well secured by Liverpool City Council. The fence fronting the nearer arch presents little deterrent for anyone wishing to access the land. The public area around the arches was strewn with used syringes before local residents took it upon themselves to clear them up. In stages, the CIC would renovate and re-purpose both arches as a contained cafe and events space, and would create a fenced area on either side of them to restrict access to the site (see diagrams on following page).

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For the people, by the people

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CAFE ENTRANCE EVENTS SPACE

CAFE SPACE

MAIN ENTRANCE to the SITE

Access to the rest of the Ralla Emergency vehicular access Emergency exit Access and Events space Cafe Entrance via the garden Welcome area + access for visitor Site border Potential fences to secure Arches + Site


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GROWING A HEALTHY COMMUNITY


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Why is the site so important as a community space? Improved amenities Kirkdale suffers badly from a lack of spaces which foster community engagement and cohesion. Kirkdale has a great lack of amenities. Within a half-mile of the Stanley Road entrance to the Ralla, there is no library, no post-office, no sports centre, no restaurant, few cafes, few pubs. A welcoming community cafe and events spaces offering a wide variety of events and activities for local residents would be a huge improvement to the area.

Engaging young people The project can give young people in the area a vital opportunity to get involved in useful and productive activities. Besides the opportunity to volunteer in maintaining the site, the CIC will engage with young people in the neighbourhood to best address their wants and needs, and work with them, and with local youth workers and residents, to put forward a suitable programme of events and activities on site. We would work with partner organisations to offer training and workshops to present young people with greater chances for moving into future employment (see Support and Partners on P.98).

Engaging older residents The project can offer a variety of activities for older people living in the local area, increasing their level of community engagement and countering social exclusion (see Support and Partners on P.98).


Growing a healthy community

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Physical and mental wellbeing Apart from the boxing clubs, there is very little in the area which promotes an active, healthy lifestyle. The benefits to health and wellbeing, both from having access to a natural green space, and from having a stronger sense of community, are clear. A range of healthy activities in a healthy, natural environment would be a huge asset to Kirkdale’s residents.

Attractivity and liveability of the area A community hub and green space would make the area generally a much nicer place in which to live. The project could act as a catalyst for the further regeneration of the area.

We aim to create a truly inclusive, welcoming space where Kirkdale’s residents can come to meet and spend time together, regardless of age, race, nationality, gender or religion. The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC


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Why is residential or commercial development at the Ralla not the answer for improving community life in Kirkdale ? There have been considerable improvements to Kirkdale in recent years. The redevelopment of the former Easby Estate has been a much-needed improvement for the area, and the Project Jennifer development on Great Homer Street has also given this former industrial site a new lease of life. However, these developments have had very little impact on community life in Kirkdale. •Many shops are still vacant and boarded up. Even the Post Office has now shut. •A great number of houses are still boarded up around the neighbourhood. •Most of the local pubs have shut down long ago or been sold off to developers. The CIC is certainly not opposed to development in the area, as Kirkdale clearly needs investment. But it also needs liveability. The CIC believes that Kirkdale needs a healthy focal point which can engage the entire community; a green and vibrant hub which can promote healthy activities and community spirit.

Stanley Road, Kirkdale.


Growing a healthy community

Kirkdale desperately needs a vehicle for greater community engagement, and this is what the Ralla can bring. A healthy, welcoming community hub in fabulous natural surroundings would be an amazing asset for the area; it’s something which could restore a sense of pride in the neighbourhood. The long-term financial benefits of the Ralla project are clear: the project would create a greener, healthier, safer, stronger community; a much more attractive area in which to live and invest. That’s why the project has received the interest and support of local housing associations: it’s something which could clearly have a positive impact on the existing housing stock. The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC

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•Many shops are still vacant and boarded up. Even the Post Office has now shu

•A great number of houses are still boarded up around the neighbourhood.

•Most of the local pubs have been shut down long ago or sold off to develope


ut.

ers.

Growing a healthy community

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Why is the land not an obvious site for residential or commercial development? Leaving to one side the terrible damage that commercial or residential development of the site could do to Kirkdale’s prospects for future community development and liveability, and the obvious damage to the natural environment, the land has very obvious barriers for potential development. Among these are:

Low elevation

The Ralla is located on a former railway cutting and sits well below the surrounding road level

Steep sides

The site is steep-sided from one end to the other


Growing a healthy community

Sandy soil

The site is located in very close proximity to Sandhills - aptly named due to the sandy soil.

Japanese knotweed

One of the world’s most invasive plant species has been left to run riot on the site for decades, and covers a considerable part of the site not already covered by woodland. Japanese knotweed is a serious concern for developers, requiring extremely costly specialist eradication which can take several years.

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Difficult access Current access to the site is through the tunnels at the Stanley Road side of the site, which leads onto Canalside Park

Close proximity to the railway

The entire site runs parallel to the railway


Growing a healthy community

Potential ground contamination

the previous uses of the land make it likely that the ground has been subject to contamination

All of the above points would be a serious concern to potential developers. The cost of remediation works to make the site suitable for either commercial or residential use would be astronomical.

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Liverpool City Council Ward Profiles A particularly alarming section of this report relates to death attributed to respiratory diseases. The level in Kirkdale is more than twice the Liverpool average, and more than four times the national average. Anyone who lives in this part of Kirkdale will know only too well just how bad the air quality can be. The awful smells, the dust and the smoke blown in from the industrial docklands is something that residents are all too familiar with. The shocking figures for respiratory diseases come as no surprise. It would appear that Kirkdale has a desperate need to keep its trees.

Source: Ward profile Kirkdale 2018, https://liverpool.gov.uk/media/9955/ kirkdale.pdf


Growing a healthy community

Many of the other ward statistics for Kirkdale also provide grim reading. It’s clear that the healthy activities and the healthy environment that the Ralla project is so committed to delivering could provide vital services to the many thousands of people who reside in Kirkdale. The following graphics outline the worrying situation of current life in Kirkdale.

In 2015-17, the average life expectancy in Kirkdale was 3.6 years lower than the Liverpool average and 6.7 years lower than the national average.

Source: Ward profile Kirkdale 2018, https://liverpool.gov.uk/media/9955/ kirkdale.pdf

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In 2016/17, the level of alcohol-related deaths was considerably higher in Kirkdale than in Liverpool as a whole.

In 2014 through to 2017, the obesity prevalence in 4-5 years olds in Kirkdale was 6.5% higher than the national average. For 10-11 year olds, the figure was 9.7% higher than the national average.

Source: Ward profile Kirkdale 2018, https://liverpool.gov.uk/media/9955/ kirkdale.pdf


Growing a healthy community

In 2017, the figure for educational attainment levels of children in Kirkdale were considerably lower than both the Liverpool and national averages.

In 2017-18, the levels of unemployment in Kirkdale were more than double the national average throughout almost all of the age groups listed on the graphic.

Source: Ward profile Kirkdale 2018, https://liverpool.gov.uk/media/9955/ kirkdale.pdf

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Source: http://www.hwa.uk.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/MayoralGreen-and-Open-Spaces-Review-Final-Report-SD201.pdf

With a little imagination and limited investment this site (which incidentally was identified as a potential park in the Unitary Development Plan (UDP)) could become a fabulous public park and part of the Green Corridor network linking Kirkdale station to the local community, the Leeds - Liverpool Canal and the city centre. There is ongoing community engagement regarding the possibilities for this hidden gem through the ‘Ralla’ project … Strategic Green and Open Spaces Review Board Final Report, 2016, p91.


Growing a healthy community

Why is this site so important as a green space? Strategic Green and Open Spaces Review Board Final Report, 2016. Liverpool City Council commissioned an extensive report, published in 2016, in order to research alternative and costeffective options that would enable the city to retain and improve the city’s green spaces in the future. The land at the Ralla was mentioned as one of the five bullet-points in the report’s Mayoral preface, which stated that the City Council had: “Identified a site for a new park in Kirkdale, Melrose Cutting.” (P.6)

The report made the following recommendations to Liverpool City Council: “The Board recommends that two new areas of public woodland are developed. One in Kirkdale next to Kirkdale Station, now known as Melrose Cutting (formally the ‘Ralla’ site) which could act as a community hub as well as a green corridor route spur to Kirkdale Station.” (P.95) “The Board recommends that Liverpool City Council works with local communities and businesses to identify opportunities for small, medium and large scale commercialisation activities.” (P.53) “The Board recommends that when a community organisation can generate community value from the management and maintenance of incidental spaces, the city council should prioritise that community’s needs in any development proposals for those spaces.” (P.61) The report also gives detailed advice and recommendations about the importance of the city’s green spaces in terms of health and well-being, environmental factors and education.

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Source: http://consult.liverpool.gov.uk/events/32280/4574926_accessible.pdf

“

An attractive green infrastructure network makes a vital contribution to quality of life, providing a number of benefits and functions, such as outdoor recreation, mitigating the effects of climate change, improving physical and mental health, providing habitats for wildlife, providing opportunities for walking and cycling and creating an attractive environment to support the regeneration of the City and improving the quality of the environment for local communities. It is therefore important to protect and enhance green infrastructure to maximise these key benefits. Liverpool Local Plan Submission Draft, January 2018, Green Web p228.

“


Growing a healthy community

Liverpool Local Plan Submission Draft, January 2018. The Local Plan is the guide to the long term, strategic spatial development of the Local Planning Authority’s area. The Local Plan includes both a document (the ‘Written Statement’) and a Policies Map. The land at the Ralla (Melrose Cutting) is noted as having significant wildlife value in the report, is designated as a Local Wildlife Site on the Policies Map, and is included as part of the city’s “Green Web”.

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Reproduced from the Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. © Crown copyright. Unauthorised Reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Liverpool City Council, Licence Number LA076288, 2017.

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12.6 The green infrastructure network in the City contributes to the identified “Green Web” in the Strategic Green and Open Spaces Review Board Final Report (2016), which identifies a network of green corridors which covers large areas of the City. These corridors link existing sites with a series of improvements and investments which will result in the establishment of the “green web”. The aim is to provide access to green and open spaces within, and across the City, in a safe, accessible and connective manner. It is therefore important to protect the key components of this “web”.

Green Corridors map, p226. We have circled the Ralla in red.


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Source: https://activenaturalist.org.uk/mbb/node/34

The site’s main value is as a habitat mosaic. When surveyed in 1997 it supported one of the highest diversity of plant species in Liverpool...

The list of locally rare species recorded during the two surveys is, proportionate to the site’s size, one of the longest in Liverpool...

Biobank Merseyside, Local Wildlife Site citation.


Growing a healthy community

A designated Local Wildlife Site since 1997. The Ralla (Melrose Cutting) has been designated as a Local Wildlife Site for over 20 years. It is an extremely important asset for local biodiversity, holding a vast array of plant life, including a long list of locally rare species. In North Merseyside, Local Wildlife Sites (LWS), are places that are of particular importance to local wildlife. Local Wildlife Sites are not legally protected like Sites of Special Scientific Interest or other ‘statutory’ sites but once identified they are afforded greater recognition in local conservation and decision making. This in turn amounts to some protection for the wildlife living there. Every LWS has an official boundary and ‘citation’. Merseyside BioBank is the Local Environmental Records Centre (LERC) for North Merseyside. The impressive citation for the Ralla (Melrose Cutting) is on the following pages.

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Site name:

Melrose Cutting, Kirkdale

Site area:

4.37ha

National grid reference: SJ347939

Date of designation:

1997

District: Liverpool

Date of last revision:

March 2010

Local Wildlife Site number: 7

Citation: A disused railway cutting approximately 750 metres in length and 80 metres wide which supports a range of habitats and plant species typical of ex-industrial land. Narrow strips of Silver Birch and Grey Willow scrub-woodland with a Bracken and Bramble understorey are found on both sides of the site for its entire length and these two species are encroaching into other areas. A small patch of Reedmace swamp is located in the central areas which are otherwise predominantly Red Fescue/Creeping Bent/Yorkshire Fog neutral grasslands. Scattered throughout are patches of bare ground and larger areas of tall ruderal vegetation including the invasive Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed. The site’s main value is as a habitat mosaic. When surveyed in 1997 it supported one of the highest diversity of plant species in Liverpool but many fewer were recorded in 2006. It is not known to what extent this apparent decline in diversity is real – as a result of encroachment of scrub and ruderal vegetation – or due to differences in survey effort. The list of locally rare species recorded during the two surveys is, proportionate to the site’s size, one of the longest in Liverpool and includes Wall Rue and Tutsan on the walls of the cutting, and Common Broomrape, Hare’s-foot Clover, Heath Woodrush, Trailing Tormentil and Yellow-wort. Appraisal: Guideline HABITATS H1 H2 H3 H4 PLANTS Sp1 Sp2

Rarity Diversity Nearness Isolation

1 BAP Priority habitat, 2 regionally important habitats 7 habitats recorded ---

Rarity Diversity

Sp3

Naturalness

Sp4 ANIMALS General Sp5 Birds B1

Nationally rare

3 regionally important species; 26 locally rare species. A total of 47 plant species was recorded during 2006-2007 but 159 were recorded in 1997. 80% of the plants are native to the city. Colonisation has not been aided by man but the site has been physically altered. --

Rare/priority

--

Non-breeding population Breeding population Regionally rare/scarce Breeding assemblage Assemblage breeding, wintering, passage

--

Breeding Regionally rare/scarce

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Regionally rare/scarce Breeding assemblage

--

B2 B3 B4 B5 Dragonflies Od1 Od2 Butterflies Bf1 Bf2 Amphibians A1 A2 Reptiles R1 R2 Bats

Comment

Rarity Exceptional population Population of native species Exceptional population

----. --

-

--

----


Growing a healthy community

Source: Biobank Merseyside Local Wildlife Site citation for Melrose Cutting

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Source: (left) https://confidentials.com/liverpool/liverpool-rock-bottom-of-ukleague-for-green-space

LIVERPOOL has the least green space of any of Britain’s major cities, a new study of satellite images from space has revealed. The revelation comes as the city prepares to sacrifice large chunks of Sefton Park and the Calderstones/Harthill estate for luxury private housing developments. It also follows reports that Liverpool has been named and shamed for the level of traffic pollution, with calls for more tree cover in polluted cities to help soak up potentially killer particulates from exhaust fumes. Confidentials, 2017


Growing a healthy community

Liverpool at the bottom of the table for green space. Mapping firm ESRI UK analysed Landsat 8 satellite images from Spring 2016 for the 10 UK cities with the largest populations, and showed Liverpool was at the very bottom of the table with only 16.4% of green space. This led to the article (left) from Confidentials, Liverpool.

source: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2017/jan/05/greenspace-uk-largest-cities-mapped.

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Source: (left) http://www.scottiepressarchive.org.uk/scottiepress.php?issue=441&pg=1


Growing a healthy community

Scottie Press, independent community newspaper The Scottie Press, Britain’s longest running community newspaper, described the Ralla as “The Lungs of Kirkdale” in 2018, and highlighted Kirkdale’s shocking figures for deaths attributed to respiratory diseases (See Liverpool City Council Ward Profiles on P.64). Below is a satellite image of KIrkdale ward, with the Ralla circled in red. The Ralla appears to be the only substantial piece of woodland in the entire ward!

Aerial view of Kirkdale ward

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Source: http://yoe2019lcr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/6007.18-YEAROF-THE-ENVIRONMENT-LAUNCH-BROCHURE_PROOF_6.pdf

In 2018, as part of the Government’s 25 year plan for the environment, 2019 was declared as a national Year of Green Action across the UK. “2019 will be a Year of Green Action across Liverpool City Region where people from all backgrounds will have the opportunity to be involved in projects that improve the natural world. Our aim is to leave a better environment for the next generation to inherit and make our area one of the best places in the country to live, work and flourish.” (p.5) The Liverpool City region Year of Environment has 8 overarching themes: Air Quality / Climate Change and Resilience / Green Spaces, Habitats and Biodiversity / Connecting and Engaging with Nature / Health and Wellbeing / Sustainable Energy / Reduce Waste / Water


Growing a healthy community

Liverpool City Region Year of Environment 2019

“

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram:

But while Year of the Environment is a golden opportunity to showcase our stunning natural assets - it must also be used to start a conversation on how we protect and preserve them for future generations. After all, every one of the 1.5million people who call the Liverpool City Region home deserves to live in a place with good air quality, sustainable waste levels and clean and renewable energy. In recent years, the focus on national government tackling climate change and environmental damage has shifted to cities and city regions. We must embrace this challenge; stand ready to shape the debate; and in true pioneering spirit - for which we are famous - we must create the ideas to foster lasting change. Steve Rotheram, Year of Evironment 2019, Liverpool City region, p.3.

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A CO-OPERATIVE CITY


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Benefits for the Local Authority in facilitating the CIC’s plans for the site. Improving Liverpool City Councils green credentials Liverpool City Council has faced great opposition in recent times due to plans for potential development on the city’s limited existing green spaces. Plans for development at Calderstones Park, Sefton Park Meadows and Bixteth Street Gardens have understandably caused huge controversy. When environmental concerns are becoming of crucial importance, Oglet Shore is also now at risk due to a potential airport expansion. Embarrassingly, Liverpool already sits at the bottom of the table of the UK’s 10 most populated cities in terms of green space. The Ralla (Melrose Cutting) is an incredibly bio-diverse Local Wildlife Site, and is the only significant natural green space in the entire Kirkdale ward. The site can become a major new public green space for the city, and can act as an exemplar for promoting biodiversity and environmental awareness.

Following through on Mayor Anderson’s proposals for a public green space on the site Hopes were high in Kirkdale in 2016 for a dedicated green space, following the Mayor’s announcement of the Melrose Meadows proposals. Residents were badly let down by these failed plans. The CIC’s plans would improve on the Melrose Meadows proposals and deliver a true community hub operating at zero cost to Liverpool City Council.

Creating a more attractive area in which to live and invest The realisation of the Ralla project would clearly have a tremendously positive impact on the area. It would create a healthier, stronger community, and this would certainly have a knock-on effect in terms of Kirkdale’s attractiveness for investors.


A co-operative city

Putting an end to antisocial behaviour on the site. Security may have been improved in recent years to counter joyriding on the site, but the current measures afford little deterrent to anyone wishing to access the site. Antisocial behaviour on the land continues to be a problem. The first thing that the CIC would do is to improve the poor security measures in place.

Promoting third sector organisations The third sector is becoming an increasingly important part of Liverpool’s economy; a resilient driver of the city’s financial prosperity. Non-profit certainly doesn’t equate to unprofitable. The Ralla project can access external funding to bring hundreds of thousands off pounds of investment into Kirkdale, necessary to provide the infrastructure to create an ongoing, profitable business, which can plough all of its profits right back into improving the neighbourhood. For anyone who is familiar with Kirkdale, the area needs it. Badly. The CIC only needs the opportunity to get to work.

Supporting the Liverpool City Region Year of Environment 2019 Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has expressed his firm commitment to ensuring the protection and preservation of Liverpool City Region’s natural assets, calling on Liverpool’s pioneering spirit to embrace environmental challenges. The Ralla project presents a perfect opportunity to follow through on these aims, by supporting a locally-rooted initiative which can be of immeasurable value to the future health of both the natural environment and the local community.

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Costs and timescales Funding

The CIC would require no funding from Liverpool City Council. It can access a wide variety of external funding streams. The project’s scope means that it can attract funding as a community engagement project, as an environmental project, and as an arts project. The project would be reliant on funding only until a community cafe could be realised. With this in place, the site can quickly become financially selfsustainable. Even without being able to access the land, the CIC already has £15,000 initial funding in place and professional developmental support. The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC’s application to Power to Change’s Bright Ideas Fund, run by Locality, was one of only 37 successful applications out of 270 applications nationally. With a land use agreement in place, accessing larger-scale funding would be much, much easier.

Improving access and preparation of the land The site needs to be made safe and clear. Security needs to be improved at the Stanley Road side of the site. Site access and pathways need to be improved. With this preparatory work done, the site could be made ready to welcome residents for a first stewarded, daytime community event. For instance, a nature walk to introduce the whole of Kirkdale to the Ralla. A pop-up cafe could be implemented in the access arch for one-off events. Estimate: £50,000 Timescale: 6 months


A co-operative city

Preparation for community gardening Materials and labour for building raised beds and polytunnels for a community garden, earth for the beds, labour and skip costs for removal of waste in the access arches. Safe tool storage facility constructed. Estimate: £35,000 Timescale: 3 months

Community cafe Due to the fact that Liverpool City Council has as yet refused to grant access to the CIC, it has been impossible to get the necessary expertise on site to accurately provide estimates of costs and timescales for the conversion of one of the access arches into a serviced structure. This would become the community cafe, and would provide the basis for the long-term financial sustainability of the site. The work could be done in stages. Simply having the arches clear and dry would enable a wide variety of community activities and events to be run on site during the warmer months. Estimate for full conversion: £350,000. Time scale: 18 months.

Artists’ studio space Simple, single-storey blocks could be constructed in various parts of the site offering small units with basic facilities. Estimate for 5 units: £75,000 Time scale: 6 months.

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List of potential funders Community engagement

Awesome Foundation PCC Crime Prevention Fund Merseyside Bright Ideas-Community Share Starter fund Heritage Lottery Fund Big Lottery Fund Onward Homes Awards For All The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation Tesco Bags of Help

Community business

Power to Change The Flore SSE- North West Big Potential

Green project

The Beautiful Ideas Co - Beautiful Parks Project Veolia The Wellcome Trust BHP Billiton Endowment Fund The Mersey Forest Grow Wild National Garden Scheme The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation Merseyside Environmental Trust

Art project

Arts Council National Lottery Project grants The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation .... and many, many more.


A co-operative city

Generation of revenue Community cafe Hire of events spaces, both indoor and outdoor Rental of studio space Tickets/fees for in-house activities and events Plant nursery The revenue generated by the activities on site will be more than enough for the CIC to become financially sustainable and indeed profitable.

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Why has the CIC never been permitted access to the site? Well before the CIC was formed, residents interested in bringing the land into community use were informed by Liverpool City Council that there are other parties interested in the land. But who these parties are, and what their interest in the land is, has never been disclosed. At a meeting with Liverpool City Council in August 2018, the CIC was informed that a period of exclusivity had been granted to yet another unnamed organisation with undisclosed plans for the site. The CIC considers that there has been a great lack in transparency from Liverpool City Council with regard to what exactly their aspirations are for the site. The CIC’s aspirations for the site have always been totally transparent: the aim is to create an inclusive, financially sustainable community hub which can benefit the entire neighbourhood, and to reinvest any profits right back into improving Kirkdale for all of its residents. The first indications for funding for this project have been extremely positive. The only thing that has so far hindered the funding process is the very fact that the CIC cannot access the land. We could have been concentrating on bringing hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment into Kirkdale, but instead, we have been totally impaired by the lack of access. In terms of preparing the land itself for community use, the CIC could already have made huge strides towards transforming this abandoned land into a beautiful community asset. Instead, the land continues to sit unused and abandoned, and with no end in sight.


A co-operative city

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Working alongside Liverpool City Council We understand that Liverpool City Council needs to ensure that the site is in safe hands and won’t become a liability to an already tightly stretched budget. However, we are keen for Kirkdale’s Ward Councillors to closely follow the progress of the project to satisfy themselves that everything is moving forward smoothly. We’d like all our Ward Councillors (Cllr Joe Hanson, Cllr Malcolm Kennedy and Cllr Lisa Gaughan) to be backing such an important project for the area. Every step of the project will be taken alongside local experts with a proven record of success, and we will be able to demonstrate that everything has been well considered and is in safe hands, and that there is no risk for Liverpool City Council in facilitating this local initiative. An outline proposal was first submitted to Cllr Hanson in March of 2018, expressing our offer to form a social enterprise, and to access the necessary funding required to get our proposals off the ground. Great strides have since been made. A Community Interest Company has been formed, and our CIC has been successful in securing developmental funding and support from Power to Change and Locality: two of the UK’s leading support providers for community businesses. Cllr Hanson has raised valid concerns about site security and antisocial behaviour, and this proposal has addressed those concerns. The CIC is now in a fabulous position to move forward with Kirkdale’s Councillors in making the CIC’s proposals a gleaming reality for Kirkdale. Our proposals for the Ralla will necessitate hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment into Kirkdale. The funds won’t be needed all at once. The work will be completed in stages, each with a clear beginning and end, and a clear budget. Each step of the work will enable the CIC to provide a greater range of activities on site. Each step will lead on to the next.


A co-operative city

The CIC isn’t requesting a Community Asset Transfer or a long lease of the land. It’s simply requesting a fixed term land use agreement so that we can have a period of grace to get to work, at no cost to Liverpool City Council, on clearing up the site and getting the necessary expertise on the land. We would then be able to put together a solid business plan and definitively demonstrate that we can deliver a project which can be a great asset to the city.

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Closing statement This document has highlighted the great importance of the Ralla, both in terms of the broad-reaching community engagement which it can offer, and as a natural public green space which can add immeasurably to the health and liveability of the area. This document has demonstrated that recent schemes of residential and commercial development in the area have had little impact on the local community. Much of Kirkdale today has very little which encourages either a healthy lifestyle, community spirit or collective pride in the area. The worrying statistics of high unemployment, poor health and poor educational attainment all paint a grim picture of life in the neighbourhood. And yet Kirkdale has an incredible asset sitting locked up and abandoned in the neighbourhood: a designated Local Wildlife Site boasting one of the richest levels of biodiversity in the whole of Liverpool relative to its size; a site which Mayor Anderson himself has described as the “hidden jewel� of North Liverpool. Liverpool City Council has repeatedly expressed its desire to promote and protect the city’s green spaces and biodiversity. However, despite environmental concerns becoming an ever more important issue and a pressing responsibility for a forward-thinking city, it often feels as though any green space in Liverpool is a potential development site. The Ralla is a perfect opportunity for LCC to present a major new public green space for Kirkdale, and a unique green asset for Liverpool, promoting environmental awareness, biodiversity and sustainability. The Ralla project has received great interest and support not only from the local community, but also from individuals and organisations from all over Merseyside with an outstanding


Closing Statement

history of success in their respective areas of the city. Community businesses all over Liverpool are transforming the city for the better. We have the help and support at hand to create something exceptional for Kirkdale. Liverpool City Council is having to cope with sharp cuts to its budgets, but this project doesn’t require any Council funding. Even without being able to access the site, the CIC has already been able to secure developmental funding and support from major support providers for community businesses. We’ve received this funding because these organisations have seen the great potential that the Ralla project holds to become a financially sustainable and profitable initiative. With an agreement of access in place, the CIC can concentrate on accessing large-scale funding, bringing hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment into an extremely deprived part of the city. We are here, we are ready, and together we can create a greener, brighter and healthier Kirkdale.

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98 Raising the Ralla Brochure - 2019

Professional support and potential collaboration The CIC already has strong links with a great many community organisations throughout Merseyside and beyond; organisations with a long history of success, which have had transformational impacts on their own areas.

Funders


Supporters and Partners

Richard Scott , director of the National

Wildflower Centre , now operating in the Liverpool World Museum, and part of the Eden Project Family.

Walking along this stretch of the Ralla is like finding a lost valley, a forgotten “shangri la”, right next to what were amongst the busiest docks in the world and only 2 miles from Liverpool City Centre. It has some of the excitement of the “Lost Gardens of Heligan” as a hidden haven for urban nature and wildlife. It is astonishing what’s there already, and feels like a real oasis. Making it an accessible, friendly and enjoyable space for people and nature would be a great thing to do. These opportunities are very rare. These sites are important resources for people’s nature and health and wellbeing. (…) It looks like a the beginning of a great journey for the Ralla group, with exciting links to champion a new North Liverpool renaissance in greenspace, and how it connects to new visions for the North end of the City. I would l love to show more people. It reminds me very much of some of the Dutch ecological gardens I have seen in Amstelveen in Holland, which are now seen as world class exemplars , and which won a European Greenspace medal in 2013. There are therefore wonderful opportunities to build similar horticultural skills through partnerships to involve people in their intimate care so that future generations can be enthralled by our local nature and biodiversity.


The Rotunda , The Rotunda offers alternative education for

young people and adults, counselling, legal advice, a cafe, nursery and garden, and puts on a variety of community events.

The Ralla is an important natural oasis, and site of bio diversity in Kirkdale. This strip of green space is beneficial for the physical and wellbeing health of the local community of which the Rotunda is a nucleus and voice. It is a testament to the passion and community spirit of the Kirkdale Ward that this belt of abandoned natural beauty will be rescued and transformed into a much needed green space for free recreation and exercise, which our own students and learners will be able to utilise and benefit from. The Rotunda supports the #rasietheralla campaign, and looks forward to working alongside the ‘Ralla Ecological Garden CIC’; the guardians of the site, and as a sister service to the Kirkdale community to help counter anti-social behaviour and encourage protection and safety of our local wildlife and people.


The Rydal Gym is an inclusive boxing club and

gym based on Stanley Road in Kirkdale

Kirkdale needs more that promotes community spirit, healthy living and exercise. The Rydal Gym supports the Ralla project as a local initiative which can help to improve the neighbourhood. We’d love to be able to make use of a healthy green space so close to the gym, and we hope that this project can happen for Kirkdale.


Stanley Park CIC , promotes community activities

in Stanley Park which promote health and wellbeing and the community as a whole. The company generates income from events to reinvest in the park facilities and services.

Stanley Park CIC is excited to see the progress made by ‘The Ralla’ Team in setting out their vision for this significant greenspace in North Liverpool. We are keen to show support for all organisations who share our own commitment to making local greenspace into vibrant places that make people feel welcome,safe and happy to use, and which are used as a way to empower local people to improve their health and wellbeing and for the benefit of the entire community. We look forward to future collaborations which can help bring new energy and investment into North Liverpool.


Metal Liverpool is an arts organisation that

works out of Edge Hill Station, the world’s oldest passenger railway station still in use. Metal completed a major renovation of the previously empty, historic buildings in 2009. The original buildings now serve as a cultural and creative hub for artists, the neighbourhood and Merseyside, carrying on the building’s proud history of innovation, aspiration and technology. They also run a Community Garden at Edge Hill Station, which is supported by volunteers. They have successfully engaged the local community through growing initiatives, community events and art projects since 2011.

“Raising the Ralla” sounds like a great project to engage the local community. It is a fantastic opportunity to transform a neglected area of the city through opportunities that will promote green living, encourage wildlife and make a positive impact on the environment. We would be more than happy to support the project and offer informal advice from our experiences of community gardening and using art and culture to engage hard to reach audiences.We look forward to visiting the site and seeing how the project develops.


Squash Nutrition , an arts and health initiative

based in central Liverpool which specialises in creative food projects and community.

“Raising the Ralla” sounds like a great project with a lot of potential to benefit both the North Liverpool and wider Liverpool community. I would certainly be interested in exploring the possibility of making links in the future and looking at ways in which we could collaborate. I very much look forward to having a tour of the site in the very near future.


A Sense of Place , Ronnie Hughes is author of the

blog is also a director of Coming Home CIC, a member of Granby 4 Streets CLT and Homebaked CLT, a trustee of Make Liverpool in the North Docks and a mentor to, and supporter of, various Liverpool community/social enterprises.

“Raising the Ralla” sounds like a great idea to me with a lot of potential to benefit the community, in a more or less secret area of North Liverpool that’s been more or less going to waste for many years. I’m more than happy to be providing the Ralla group with my advice and support, and I very much look forward to the day that the land is brought into proper community use and stops being the hidden secret it is today.


Small Steps Events CIC , are a creative

enterprise focusing on hosting a plethora of events featuring arts, music, workshops and talks. We use our events as a springboard for young artists and musicians to show off their talents whilst involving the local community in free cultural events. Our focus as a company is to support local arts, create community involvement and open up discussions around social, environmental and political issues.

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We support the Ralla project in the bid to open up a new cultural green space for the community of Kirkdale and the surrounding area. Small Steps are hopeful to work as events collaborators helping the Ralla project with their proposed indoor and outdoor events spaces. We have grown our events and would love to be involved with the process of developing a new cultural space in this forgotten woodland. We would be happy to provide any and all support to this project and their future endeavours.


Marcus Rüssel CEO of Gigmit

and former president of the non-profit organisation “Second attempt”. Gigmit is Europe’s biggest online booking platform for live music and has partnered with Liverpool Sound City for 4 years. “Second attempt” is developing a cultural centre (also in the field of urban gardening and community work) in Germany and has been active in this field on several projects funded by the European Union and the local government.

I have been recently introduced to the Ralla project. It sounds like a great community project, and I would be more than happy to give the Ralla team advice on project management and funding. I am also happy to connect them with the famous projects “The Princess Gardens” and “Holzmarkt” in Berlin which attracted huge international attention in urban gardening.


Kitty’s Launderette , is a new social enterprise

in North Liverpool, aiming to provide affordable, ecological washing and drying facilities to the local community, while utilising the warm interior as an accessible arts and social space. Since constituting in Jan 2017, we have been seeking to contribute to local economic growth by creating local jobs and local supply chains.

We support the “Raising the Ralla” proposal for the currently disused land as it recognises the positive impact that environmental, community led enterprises can have on an area. Their proposal has the potential to create jobs and training opportunities, vital social spaces and community pride as well as benefits to both physical and mental health. We would love to find ways for our organisations to collaborate in the future.


B4Biodiversity , works on a bottom up approach

to local wildlife working with community groups, schools and neighbourhood groups to engage with local green and brown spaces on their doorsteps to learn that nature can flourish anywhere.

Access to green spaces and nature is important to our everyday lives and therefore we support the Ralla project 100%.

Association Lisière , French collective of

landscape designers and gardeners based in Lille, France. They have been running a successful Ecological Garden in a historical area of the city for several years and have been working closely with the local Council.

Your plans and actions are great! The idea of a twinning is great ! We have been dreaming about having a network of linked projects for so long! We’re with you!


Friends of the Earth Liverpool , is

a national organisation working to eradicate local environmental and social injustices alongside national FoE campaigns. FoE believes strongly in a collaborative local approach.

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This project offers great potential to foster wider interaction with, and appreciation for, the natural environment, whilst improving the health and wellbeing of the local community. Sustainable initiatives such as this are key in driving forward a greener, more resilient and healthier future for the city. The land at the Ralla is clearly an extremely important natural asset for the city, and Liverpool FoE is very keen to support the project. As an organisation, we are more than happy to offer our collective experience to the Ralla group in support of such an exciting and important local initiative.

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January 2019 edition Liverpool, UK Produced by The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC Text by Fred Newman Design and collages by Myriam Lahnite

RALLA ECOLOGICAL GARDEN,

The

Liverpool


therallaecogarden@gmail.com

#raisingtheralla

Profile for The Ralla Ecological Garden CIC

Raising the Ralla! 2019 brochure.  

For many years, residents in Kirkdale have been keen to transform the land at the Ralla into a true asset for the local community. In 2018,...

Raising the Ralla! 2019 brochure.  

For many years, residents in Kirkdale have been keen to transform the land at the Ralla into a true asset for the local community. In 2018,...

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