Dear Cllr Robertson-Collins,
We are residents of the immediate local community surrounding Greenbank Park, and are writing to you in regards to the planning permission sought by the Watering Can Cafe that would encroach into the beloved walled gardens. We are concerned to know why as Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability, you have not either released a personal view and objection to planning permission or responded to The Friends of Greenbank Park and their invitations to attend a meeting to discuss the application? Does this loss of public greenspace and Conservation Area not form part of your remit?
As we are sure you are aware, if this planning permission were to be granted, we would lose 75 square meters (approx 800 square feet) of the greenspace in our park. This cannot be allowed to happen.
You only have to visit the park and its walled garden to see the recreational use it provides and caters for. Many families use the walled gardens as a reprieve from the larger park as it offers not only privacy with their children but also a calmer and more secure environment. This privacy and security is already breached by the cafe’s glass conservatory at the rear of the building which looks out into the walled garden. As a non-smoking area it also sustains a healthier environment for our young and developing children. In this modern city-setting, do we not have a moral obligation to the future generation to preserve our sacred greenspaces and history? Many communal greenspaces are being threatened by the ever-increasing capitalist consumerism culture of our society.
The Watering Can has made a considerable profit during the Covid-19 lockdown by providing takeout refreshments and food to the visitors of the park, is this not a model they can continue after the lockdown restrictions are lifted? This would produce questions surrounding the honesty of their reasons for extending their establishment in line with social distancing measures as they will most likely not apply by the time that the extension is completed (HD10 1 ii). This raises the question of why they need to expand their building into a protected area of the park? It would have an adverse effect on character and appearance of the natural beauty and construction of the Conservation Area if it were allowed to be mutated into a commercial area (HD10 1. i . and HD11 1 i and HD11 2. ii of LUDP).
As a Conservation Area the boundary wall of the garden is an integral part of the historic layout and features of the beautiful garden, the key natural site feature would not be retained and would therefore diminish the historical importance and character of the gardens (HD10. 2 i. and HD22 1 i.) The loss of open space available for families and the bereaved to use the park will be significantly diminished. As the primary purpose of this space has always been a walled garden, that is intrinsically linked to the Rathbone family and their contribution to the city of Liverpool, any loss of open space and landscape features would be detrimental. (HD11 2. iv.)
The garden is also home to an array of wild birds that are seen throughout the park, robins and grey-tits to name but two. If this planning permission was to be granted there have been no provisions made to ensure the replanting of trees and flowerbeds to accommodate both the garden and its wildlife. The current understanding is that the owners intend to remove a medium sized tree, a bush and a palm tree, with no plans of replacement planting. Are we to accept the destruction of our greenspace and plant life with no means of preservation?
Our final, and most important point, is the lack of consideration for the views and opinions of the local residents and community of Greenbank Park in consideration of the application. We do not want this expansion for a plethora of reasons that extend beyond the points raised in this letter. The Watering Can has never tried to work cohesively with the local community of Greenbank to preserve the beauty of our park and walled garden that is profoundly loved and maintained by the local community. It is worth noting that the current establishment bears no resemblance to the “community cafe” that the residents were originally promised. The Watering Can want to destroy aspects of the walled garden in the name of expansion and personal economic gain. In the democracy that we live in, the community must be considered in a decision that will directly affect their lives and environment.
We would like to thank you for taking the time to read and digest the contents within this letter. We hope to hear your response shortly, whether in a letter to us directly, or through actions to actively campaign and show your opposition to the application. Your support would be greatly appreciated by your local constituents who you represent here is Mossley Hill, Greenbank community.