Council and third sector champ take control of site to boost community support
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One Knowsley, the infrastructure support body for the third sector in Knowsley, Merseyside, has acquired the courtyard and surrounding buildings at Court Hey Park in Huyton.
It plans to transform the site, previously part of the wider site for the former National Wildflower Centre, into its new headquarters and a community hub.
Acquired in an asset transfer from Knowsley Council with support from Livv Investment, One Knowsley and its key stakeholders will be leading significant investment into the refurbishment of the two buildings to drastically contribute to the ambition within the borough to improve its green credentials.
As well as One Knowsley’s new headquarters, the buildings and grounds, which equate to a total space of 513.58 sq m, will be used for activity to support, develop and deliver the activities of the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector within the borough creating a resource for local residents and the wider population.
Working with strategic partners, Knowsley Council and One Knowsley will lead a renaissance of the site in partnership with local groups and business community offering space for activities, meetings, and workshops as well as welcoming the 20,000 visitors to the annual Knowsley Flower Show in 2022.
Racheal Jones, One Knowsley chief executive, said: “After a period of growth for One Knowsley and building on the impact of our work and role within the borough, Court Hey Courtyard offers a fantastic opportunity to not only meet the growing needs of our workforce, but to meet the needs of the wider sector we support and act as the trusted voice for.
“Our vision is to create a vibrant new hub for community events and social activities, and a place for the people of Knowsley to be proud of. We are committed to developing a plan for the site over the coming months, one that includes our stakeholders and the local community who it will serve. It is incredibly important that they are involved in the process.
“I’d like to thank Knowsley Council and Livv Investment for their support with the asset transfer and I am looking forward to working closely with our stakeholders to fulfill our ambitions for an exemplar in green recovery from the COVID pandemic.”
One Knowsley plans the site to be an exemplar for green recovery. Court Hey Park will boast a new heating system and LED lighting set throughout, along with solar panels fitted to the roof. One Knowsley’s investment in reducing its carbon footprint will reduce the annual energy consumption of its buildings by approximately 180,000 Kwh per annum.
Cllr Shelley Powell, cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods, Knowsley Council, said: “The council’s aspirations for this site include a space for groups and organisations to meet, offering a range of activities that promote social enterprise, community empowerment, and environmental stewardship.
“To date, the council has secured funding to be ploughed into improvement works at Court Hey Park. This includes £187,000 from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme which will be used to install a low carbon heating system and a new solar array within the Courtyard Buildings at Court Hey Park.
Internal spaces will also be upgraded with plans for a café provider to once again operate from the park. Work is due to commence over the coming months.
“In addition, £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund has been secured which will support the development of a masterplan for the park.”
Howard Roberts, executive director of finance and performance, Livv Housing Group, said: “One Knowsley is doing some exciting work in the borough and we were keen to help this important organisation, which generates huge social impact, with their COVID recovery and green vision.
“Court Hey is a much loved park. We are pleased that our investment will help One Knowsley to move there, as well as provide more opportunities and activities benefitting local people and the wider Liverpool city region.”
One Knowsley is also keen to protect the history of the Court Hey Park site and its biodiversity, which can be traced back to the late 1780’s.
The charity will be making several nods to the site’s past, including its life as the National Wildflower Centre, working with Heritage Lottery Fund and Knowsley Council to explore the rich heritage and create a lasting legacy for the local community.