Sefton's coastline is benefiting from a range of improvements being co-ordinated by Mersey Waterfront, a programme set up to enhance and regenerate coastal sites stretching from Southport to Wirral, and sites along the estuary to Runcorn.
Regenerating the Sefton Coastline
The Freshfield Sand Dunes, Formby Point and Marshside reserve are among the areas being looked at. Mersey Waterfront is also helping to fund major seafront improvements at Southport, which have already included the award-winning Marine Way Bridge.
Introducing Louise Hopkins
Director of Mersey Waterfront, Louise Hopkins, was brought up on Merseyside and lives with her family in Waterloo.
She can see first hand the work being done to regenerate the waterside: "A quarter of a million pounds is being spent on landscaping at Crosby Marine Park. Proposals are also on the table for the Sefton WATER Centre, which ultimately could become a national centre of excellence for watersports and outdoor recreation."
Improving Open Spaces
With local nature reserves and coastal parks along the length of the Sefton coastline, Mersey Waterfront is supporting a range of projects to improve open spaces through projects such as:
A new alternative route across Formby Point. This is part of a wider programme to improve accessibility to the coast and as part of a new North West Coastal Trail. Other improvements have ranged from enhancing the conservation value of the reserve, to increasing local community involvement.
A Physical Access Study, which will lead to the Sefton Coastal Path being upgraded. A key element of the Mersey Waterfront programme is its access strategy, and the promotion of access for all - from disabled users to parents with push chairs and toddlers.
New sites like Freshfield Dune Heath are being made more accessible. Freshfield was bought from the Ministry of Defence by Lancashire Wildlife Trust, and will soon be opened up to the public for the first time in over 60 years. Mersey Waterfront money will go towards paths and fences, opening up new activities like riding for the disabled.
As part of the continued development of the RSPB's reserve at Marshside, Mersey Waterfront has funded a shallow pool for nesting birds. Money is also being spent on a viewing platform with pictures and background information on what people can see.
Focus on Southport
Southport's recently built ECO Centre is an important Mersey Waterfront project. A major addition to the town's seafront, it was built using the latest sustainable construction techniques and will provide environmental education to the general public as well as special interest groups.
The resort is also benefiting from major seafront improvements. This includes lighting and seating, the repair and cleaning of the Queen Victoria monument, plus enhanced setting for the Grade III listed Queen Victoria Baths. In addition, a study funded by Mersey Waterfront is being carried out to look at possible improvements to Southport Marine Lake and it's immediate surroundings.
Southport's Marine Way Bridge was recently hailed as an outstanding example of innovation and excellence and a "lasting legacy for future generations visiting Southport" by the Institute of Civil Engineers. Thanks to Mersey Waterfront, lighting has been added to the under deck sections of the bridge. Mersey Waterfront money has also been used for extensive landscaping, plus improvements to link the bridge with Southport Pier.
Power to the People
People across Sefton are now being urged to help shape the future development of Mersey Waterfront.
The Waterfront team successfully launched a series of People's Panels last year, including a group of young people in South Sefton covering Crosby, Bootle and Waterloo.
The idea is based on the US International Citizens Jury scheme where groups of volunteers - representing different sections of the community - make recommendations about their local area.
Panel members are offered advice and training to help them understand how Mersey waterfront operates and works with its partner organisations.
So far, dozens of local people have been able to join debate and discussion about how areas of the river estuary in their neighbourhood can best be re-developed.
What members of the South Sefton Panel have said about their involvement in Mersey Waterfront…
"How would I like to be involved in the future? I'd like to help make decisions about plans, do questionnaires, and so on. I'd like to be involved on a regular basis and do voluntary work." Rahila Ali, 19
"I'd like to start up an action group to tackle the main problems like crime, vandalism and litter. I want to let people know what's happening in their local area." Kevin Holloway, 28
Director of Mersey Waterfront, Louise Hopkins says: "Our People's Panels are the cornerstone of public involvement in developing ideas and canvassing feedback from residents. Our panel members have already made a huge contribution and their involvement is going to be even more important in the future."
To register interest in People's Panels, volunteers can e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call James Cash at Mersey Waterfront: 0151 237 3945 to find out more.
Mersey Waterfront is an £8.8m, Northwest Regional Development Agency funded programme hosted by The Mersey Partnership and working with partners including Sefton Council.
For more information about Mersey Waterfront visit www.merseywaterfront.com