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National Trust Formby sand dune restoration project given planning approval

1 week ago

National Trust Formby sand dune restoration project given planning approval
Visitors exploring the sand dunes and the woodland at Formby, Liverpool

The National Trust’s plan to restore natural sand dune habitats at Victoria Road by removing the existing beach car park and associated construction rubble, has been allowed through an appeal process.

Under the plan, The National Trust will use most of the unsightly rubble to create a replacement, similar sized car park further inland. It is anticipated that work will start in winter 2024, significantly reducing visitor access to Victoria Road for several months. 

Kate Martin, Lead Ranger for the National Trust’s Formby and Central Lancashire properties said:

“Formby is part of one of the fastest-moving coastlines in the UK. Areas of naturally shifting sand create special habitats for rare sand dune wildlife, including natterjack toads and sand lizards. Sand dunes can also act as a natural sea defence if they’re given the space to shift and change over time. The old construction rubble is creating a barrier and stopping natural sand movement”.

“This conservation project will help us restore Formby’s sand dunes to their natural state and re-connect important habitats, creating space for wildlife to thrive – the appeal decision feels like a huge step forward for this special place.” 

National Trust Formby

This project aims to solve the long-standing problem of the potentially hazardous and unsightly rubble that is spilling out on to the beach. Regular visitors to Formby’s coastline will be familiar with the sight of rubble on the beach at Victoria Road. The rubble is all that remains of the old Harington Barracks, which were demolished after the Second World War. The demolition rubble was used to form the foundations of the current beach car park. Natural processes that create Formby’s fast-shifting shoreline mean that each year more rubble is being exposed. The rubble is disconnecting wildlife habitats and restricting visitor access to the beach. 

The plan also provides a solution for the Victoria Road beach car park which has seen around a third of its car parking spaces reclaimed by the natural environment since it was built in the 1980s.  The car park continues to lose approximately eight car parking spaces each year, compounding the issues felt by the local community on busy days.

The Trust’s creative solution will see the rubble processed and reused on site to form the foundations of a replacement car park, further away from the sand dunes. This car park will create a sustainable parking solution for visitors at Victoria Road. The car park will hold the same number of cars, but spaces will be more defined with an improved turning circle, making parking more efficient and improving traffic flow on and off the site. 

Vicky Blane, General Manager for the National Trust’s Formby and Central Lancashire properties said:

 “We’re delighted with the positive appeal outcome. We can now move forward with plans to restore the sand dune habitats at Victoria Road. Our purpose as a conservation charity is to enhance the landscape for nature and people. 

“This project is part of the National Trust’s long-term commitment to look after this very special part of the Sefton Coast. Relocating the car park not only solves the rubble issue but will also help ensure there is space for people to park and enjoy Formby for years to come. Our vision is to create healthier habitats where rare dune wildlife can thrive and a safer, more natural space for visitors to enjoy.”

“The appeal decision acknowledged that while the removal of self-seeded sycamore and birch trees will have some initial visual impact, the overall project will create bigger and healthier habitats for wildlife at Formby. Ecological surveys also show that the trees being removed are a poor-quality habitat for red squirrels and other wildlife. Enhancing the tree health, species diversity, and age structure of Formby’s woodlands continues to be one of our conservation priorities.” 

National Trust Formby
Rubble on the beach at Formby, Merseyside. Remains of WW2 Harrington Barracks.

“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this project so far, including local residents and visitors for sharing their feedback. We will continue to collaborate with conservation experts, partners along the Sefton Coast, the local community, volunteers, and visitors to successfully deliver this project. There will be lots of opportunities for people to find out more about the operational planning and logistics that may impact their visit and to have their say. Regular updates will be shared on our website and social media.”

The work is expected to start on site in winter 2024, lasting until around spring 2026. Whilst the work is carried out there will be no visitor access to the beach, car park or toilet facilities at Victoria Road and path diversions will be in place to keep people a safe distance away from the work.

The car park at Lifeboat Road will remain open for the duration of the project but the number of car parking spaces across the site will be significantly reduced. The team at National Trust Formby are working on a traffic management plan that will be agreed with Sefton Council.

Visitors wanting to enjoy a beach walk during this time will be encouraged to explore the wider Sefton Coast or arrive to Lifeboat Road on foot, on bike or by public transport.

Details of the full planning application can be found on the Sefton Council website here.

Find all the latest Sefton news here.

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