Sunday, 7 August 2011

ABetterCrosby - our Vision for Crosby

Welcome back, or hello for the first time.

For the last few months we have been quietly busy.

Since our Annual General Meeting in February, and our Re-Imagining Crosby Village workshop in April, we have been talking to council officers, Councillors and others about how to make real progress with improvements to Crosby Village.

We are now asking for views on our initial ideas for the future of the village - which you can read about HERE - please either comment on the post or email us at, if you have any thoughts you would like to add.

Most urgently we are also making formal comment on Sefton Council's Core Strategy - the key planning document which will direct development in Sefton for the next 15 years.  You may have heard of this in the context of proposals to reduce the Green Belt, but it is about much more than that, and it is our best chance of influencing local policy.  Please read our draft response HERE, and if you can, make your own, personal  response on the councils quick and easy on-line survey, here. The last day for responses is Friday 12th August.

There are many other things we wish we intend to do, particularly organising some community events in Crosby Village, and creating a marketing campaign for Crosby, but right now our resources are limited. If you would like to help us and get involved in anyway please get in touch.

The Committee of ABetterCrosby

Rev Pete Spiers (Chair), Norma Farrell, Peter Harvey, Jamie Scott, Barbara Mason, Lesley Mason, Esther Matthews, Adam Ritchie, Clare Holland

IMPORTANT !! - The Core Strategy

Although it might not be top of your list of things to do this week, making a reply to the Sefton Council's Core Strategy is important, please complete the online survey if you can spare just a couple of minutes. Replies must be submitted by this Friday 12th August.

Last year when we campaigned for a better future for Crosby Village we discovered the importance of Planning Policy in directing the decisions of Councillors and developers. The Core Strategy is our communities best, perhaps only, chance to shape and direct the actual policies that control what kind of development can take place across Crosby and in the Village.

Before highlighting the quick links to the survey - here is the background -

ABC is a community group which has the stated aim: ‘to bring about positive change for the residents of Crosby by celebrating its heritage and directing its future’

ABC is currently focused on promoting the regeneration of Crosby Village, by creating a positive and achievable vision for the village and wider area. ABC held a consultation event in April 2011, and has continued dialogue with local people, Councillors and Council Officers.

ABC believes that a clear, positive, commercially viable and popular Vision for Crosby can play an important role in attracting investment and development.
Any development must sit within the planning framework, and the Core Strategy is an important part of that framework, setting the tone and context for all development in the borough.

Consequently we are commenting on the Core Strategy as a key planning document, which will outline the approach to development in Crosby.

The more local people who make direct responses to Sefton Council expressing their own views on the Core Strategy the better.

ABC has not made any direct comment on the Green Belt or Greenspace Strategies.  Both of these follow on from the needs and direction of the Core Strategy.

Sefton’s own introduction …

Core Strategy Options Response form

We are currently preparing the Core Strategy for Sefton. This will be the key long-term plan that will help shape how our towns and villages, our coast and countryside. We are also consulting on a number of supporting studies, on housing, jobs, the Green Belt and Green Spaces. We want your views on all of these.

Issues and Challenges 

1(a)     Do you agree with the issues and challenges we have identified? (click here to see these)

ABC Response - No  

1(b)     Are there any other issues or challenges we need to consider? What are they are, and why do you think they are important? Or have we included any that are not important? Why aren’t they?

Whilst ABC does agree that issues A to E are important, we believe the overarching key issue is to ‘Improve the Quality of Sefton’s Places’.

Whilst a general statement we believe this needs to be stated as the Core Strategy needs a clear positive message.  Quality of Place is fundamental to many of the other issues and challenges identified.

We believe the emphasis currently given to the identified issues should be adjusted. We believe the most important is D – Thriving, whilst the attention paid to A - Housing across the Core Strategy is too dominant. In this the Core Strategy could have a clear relationship to economic development plans for the borough.

A Quality Homes and Neighbourhoods

Only items A4 & A5, make reference to issues relating to Quality or Neighbourhoods regarding vacancy levels and local distinctiveness, both of which we agree are very important. The apparent key focus, being identified as the first issue is housing need. Whilst important, and clearly a very complex subject which has demanded a lot of study and consideration, rather than being driven by statistical analysis first and foremost, producing seem surprising requirements, we believe the idea of Quality Places (leading to economic growth) should drive the strategy, with the necessary provision for potential new housing responding accordingly.

The need for more space for housing is explained in the extensive documentation, and the risk to Core Strategy approval is noted. However the argument that a declining population in Sefton requires additional new housing land seems unsustainable.
Smaller households, aging population and greater affluence explain the recent need more land, however since the financial crisis we wonder if these same expansionist pressures will continue. How has the analysis taken account of the big changes in the housing market and UK economy of recent years and months?  If the Core Strategy is based on evidence of past trends, how are these translated into the apparently different future we face?

Vision and Objectives

2(a)     Do you agree that the Vision and Objectives are appropriate and the right ones for Sefton? (See draft Core Strategy Options Paper Pages 22-24 - by clicking here).

ABC Response – No

2(b)     If not, what changes would you suggest?

Whilst the elements of the vision described by items 4.3 to 4.9 are all good (improved health, climate change, use of underused land & buildings, new homes, transport, employment, thriving local centres), we believe there should be a clear ‘Golden Thread’- an overarching, positive vision statement that sets an exciting target for the next 15 years. Such a ‘Golden Thread’ could move local and media conversations about the Core Strategy from worries about Green Belt to positive discussions about a distinct future for Sefton.

Item 4.2 contains good points, but not a strong core idea. Whilst regeneration of Bootle and Southport is important, all the places of Sefton should be encouraged to develop into better quality places, and the emphasis of the text should be on all the places of Sefton equally. 

Possible ideas for a ‘Golden Thread’ –

The Active Coast – one of England’s finest coastal boroughs.

The extent and diversity of our coastline is a wonderful asset, not currently reflected in the Core Strategy.  Few places in the UK have such a coastline, with beaches on their doorstep yet are simultaneously less than 30 minutes or an hour from a major city centre. Sefton should seek to take maximum advantage from this.

Based around its coast, Sefton could aim to be the North West’s premier tourist and leisure destination, and one of its most popular residential locations. Fulfilling these objectives it could secure additional employment and create thriving places.

Within this broad idea each distinct place could promote its own positive future plan. We think the Core Strategy should include clear ‘pen-portraits’ of potential futures for each of its places.

Southport – To re-establish itself as one of the country’s most popular, high quality, ‘classic resorts’.
Formby – To become the best small town (commuter town) in the North West. Improved accessibility to the motorway network, the coast, golf and sports facilities, and quality homes allow it to complete with any town in terms of quality of life.
Crosby – Liverpool’s best suburb, which benefits from its own clear identity as a distinctive town. With great schools, housing, beaches and a vibrant and popular centre (“the Village”), which serves the whole community whilst retaining historic character and distinctiveness. 
Bootle – A thriving port and office district support a growing range of commercial activity and employment. This activity provides the lead to wider regeneration.
Maghull – An increasingly accessible and desirable suburb. An improved town centre and improved links into the surrounding countryside and to the coast enhance its qualities.

An alternate or additional ‘Golden Thread’ could be ‘Sustainable Sefton’

The quality and proximity of agricultural land, accessibility by train, scale of our towns and population, and new coastal energy production combine to give Sefton some very strong sustainability credentials. These qualities could be developed to promote Sefton as one of the most sustainable boroughs, and consequently one of the best places to live, in the country.

The concept of a ‘Golden Thread’ is taken from an article and presentation about creating good plans currently on the Royal Town Planning Institute website –

We also highlight the recommendations of the Design Council/CABE document –


3(a)     How important is it that we identify enough land to meet Sefton’s housing needs?
(Please mark on a scale of 1 to 5 below. 1 = unimportant and 5 = very important).

ABC Response - 3 reasonably important, and it is very important to get the Core Strategy approved, but we think actual need in the future needs careful assessment. Note that item 4.15 of Housing Technical Paper states most recent DCLG Household Growth Projection for Sefton is only 320 homes p/a


4(a)     How important is it that we identify enough land for jobs and businesses in Sefton?
(Please mark on a scale of 1 to 5 below. 1 = unimportant and 5 = very important).

ABC Response – 5 very important


5(a)     Which option of our three do you think is the right option for Sefton?

ABC Response –

A version of Option 1 (urban containment), which focuses on quality of place and sustainability, reconsiders housing need /space required, and has less risk of not being approved by inspectors.

Last word on this - 

Whether you agree with our approach and responses or not, your own reply to the Core Strategy is important. To date the Council has only received 2000 replies, relatively few, and we would encourage you to promote Crosby's future .

You can see all the council information here -

And the quick on line response is here -

Thanks you for your interest..


The NEF workshop, Reimagining Crosby Village

Ideas for Crosby

notes of proposals suggested at Re-Imagining Crosby Village workshop event in April 2011

The NEF workshop, Reimagining Crosby Village

The ABetterCrosby event, Reimagining Crosby Village, was attended by around 50 people of all ages from 16 to 80, including representatives from the public, voluntary and education sectors, local traders and members of the community.

We asked NEF to lead the event, find out about them here.

The interactive part of the evening involved attendees considering what stops money from leaking away from a community and also what maximises well-being in a local high street. So the twin aspects of prosperity and quality of life were considered.

Proposals for positive action were generated. These ideas were recorded on flipchart paper and maps of the area. People then applied stickers to these proposals as a way of voting.

Grouping the projects together by theme allows some of the key issues raised to be identified. They are listed here in no particular order.


  • Promote tourism / leisure uses.  To enable this a clear vision for Crosby, a sense of what makes it special, is required.
  • Provide online consumer info and use social media.
  • Seasonal festivals – add summer children’s festival to current music festival (spring), proposed Goose Feast (autumn) and Christmas events to make seasonal calendar
  • Local arts competitions / exhibitions – use disused spaces, shop window competitions, school involvement


  • Allow more people easier access to the village, increase number of people in village.
  • Sensible parking policies.
  • Better access for pedestrians into village from surrounding areas,  i.e. crossing roads, and sense of (visual) connection/safety.
  • Create positive welcome into the village.
  • Cycle routes – beach / schools / homes linking up right in the Village centre
  • Create a ‘Hub’ (financing, information, activities, promotions, volunteering, action, community interaction, friendships)

Develop Trading Initiatives

  • Promoting local produce
  • Loyalty scheme for local businesses / Traders to cooperate together
  • Local traders and community action support & pressure authority to keep the area and shopfronts clean and tidy.
  • Community buy-outs of underutilised property
  • Project Griffin (community involvement in protecting against crime)

Improved public space and facilities

  • Create facilities and buildings which will increase the use of the village by bringing more people to the area.
  • Children’s Play area
  • Bandstand
  • Pocket Park
  • Public toilets

There were many other ideas proposed that we will keep for the future, but the list above is plenty to think about for now. All of the ideas generated by the event will be considered within the preparation of the ‘Vision for Crosby’.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

A PLAN for Crosby

A Plan for Crosby

Second draft text, 5 August 2011

ABetterCrosby is a community group which has the stated aim: ‘to bring about positive change for the residents of Crosby by celebrating its heritage and directing its future’

We are promoting the regeneration of Crosby Village, and with this objective in mind we held a consultation event in April 2011 to discuss ideas for the village, and have continued dialogue with local people, Councillors and Council Officers.

ABC believes that a positive, commercially viable and popular Vision for Crosby can play an important role in attracting investment and development which can improve the quality of the village.
The purpose of this text is to initiate such a vision, which local people, the public sector and commercial interests can support and act upon.
To get from the idea of regenerating Crosby Village to actual physical development is a complex process of many steps, but a clear strategy is the first requirement. These are only early steps, but they build upon a clear need for action following a high level of community interest in the state of the Village during 2010.

Elements of this Vision

From a simple idea or ‘Vision’ for our town, comes a series of ‘Necessary Qualities’, things which the town needs to do but currently does not. In turn these qualities suggest a series of ‘Requirements’, tangible things which would improve the town, and taking these requirements together and seeing the whole picture, will allow a ‘Masterplan’ to be created. This will take all the current aspects of the village and the ‘Requirements’ and create a plan of interlinked development projects and smaller improvements which work together to provide the best possible solution for the whole community.
We want to agree the key ‘Requirements’, with all interested parties before progressing to a ‘Masterplan’. Some things won’t work together, and only a ‘Masterplan’ solution can bring it all together, and demonstrate to sceptics what is possible for Crosby Village.

The Vision  

Liverpool’s best suburb, which benefits from its own clear identity as a distinctive town.

With great schools, housing, parks, beaches and a thriving centre (“the Village”), which serves the whole community whilst retaining its historic character, Crosby is recognised as one of the best places to live and work in Merseyside.

Most aspects of this vision are already in place, with the exception of Crosby Village being a thriving centre.

The Necessary Qualities of Crosby Village

Serving our whole community

Crosby Village is not thriving because it is not providing the right services that attract customers. Currently many shop units are empty whilst others provide for the ‘value’ market, leaving only a few others attracting a wider range of customers. The viscous circle of lack of customers leading to a lack of shops must be broken. There are entrepreneurs who want to create profitable, popular businesses, as seen in other areas of Crosby, and the village has a strong catchment area, but the reasons businesses are not locating here must be addressed. One reason is a lack of clarity about the future of the village. An agreed plan will address this. Another is visibility of the village, unless you choose to explore the pedestrianised areas, then you don’t know what is happening - there is no passing trade at all. This makes starting a new business particularly hard. Lack of easy access into the village, with pedestrians having to negotiate busy road crossings, and car users having to ‘pay and display’, also deters potential customers. Another issue is rent levels, but these should be driven by market values and responsible landlords, for whom some rent should be better than nothing. The best chance to improve rents is to improve the service the village provides. Our proposal cannot determine or install the exact type of businesses that will revive the village, but it can create the conditions which will make the village attractive to entrepreneurs who are able to serve the changing needs of our community.

Creating commercial value

The regeneration must be commercially led. Fortunately there is already a lot of commercial interest in the village, due the potential market of its catchment area. Creating attractive conditions and value for businesses so they want to invest in depends understanding and serving their needs to. A key to this is having major attractive shopping or leisure ‘anchors’ which bring customers with money to spend to the village. One of these attractors should be a larger supermarket providing for household’s regular ‘big shop’ for food. Another should be a range of smaller distinct businesses which work together to create a cluster of activity which draws customers. Examples of this kind of district include Birkdale Village, where the range of independent food shops and cafes work together, and Hope Street Liverpool, where a cluster of cafes and restautants combine to create a popular destination. Apart from retail and services value is also created from property. The Core Strategy identifies future development needs across Sefton, particularly residential requirements, and it may be that additional value can be created by introducing such other uses into and around Crosby Village

Reflecting our heritage

Successful places don’t just offer services but also have some distinct character and quality of place, making them interesting to visit. The history of Crosby gives it some character which can be reinforced by sensitive development. The origins of the town are seen in the street pattern and historic pubs. The Art Deco Glenn Buildings remind us of the growth of Crosby with the train /tram in the 1930s, and these buildings, with restoration, could be the hub of a cluster of attractive shops and cafes, or alternate businesses serving future needs.

Responding to future needs

To be successful Crosby needs to be able to respond to future requirements, some which may not yet even be apparent. Many of the things identified in Sefton’s sustainability policy try to suggest what these future issues may be, and these policies should be carefully considered. Changes in transportation cost, changes in shopping habits, and changes in affluence may all affect our Village. Crosby needs to be flexible, its buildings and infrastructure need to become and remain flexible, to allow it to respond positively to future changes.
(Do you agree with these headline qualities?- any others you think are important?)


The qualities identified allow us to think about what the actual solutions could be, and the key ones are outlined below. The theme of these is ‘Unlocking Crosby Village’


From discussions with traders across Crosby it is clear that customer access is absolutely vital. Crosby Village is isolated from its community by the road network, parking arrangements and charges, and the extent of pedestrianisation.
A number of things can be done, and we would like people’s opinions on them.
  • Introduce a controlled element of car access, de-pedestrianising part of Crosby Village. We anticipate this would be a one way system, with the bypasses for traffic remaining fully functional, but local traffic, taxis, and perhaps buses would be able to go through the village, and also make convenience stops. 
  • Improve pedestrian crossing points, particularly from Cooks Road and Coronation Road, such that Crosby Village integrates itself into surrounding pedestrian routes in a much better way .
  • Build a cycling network across Crosby linking schools, the coastline and the shopping areas together, with Crosby Village as the hub of this network.
  • Get a better parking charge system, which encourages visits of more than 30 minutes to the village.

New facilities to attract new customers

A new supermarket, new shops, cafes, offices, and new housing will all be identified in the plan for Crosby, each bringing more people into the village and creating value for developers. To be successful, all these different elements must work together.

A Co-ordinated solution

The success of Crosby depends upon all the landowners and developers seeing the wider benefit of a co-ordinated solution, and working towards such a solution together. There are a number of key landowners, and one of the most significant of these is Sefton Council. To take Crosby forward requires a co-ordinated and committed approach from Council Officers and Councillors, which can again be sought by the people of Crosby, as it was successfully in 2010.  Local businesses and other interested parties also need to share the same vision for a good future for Crosby, the disappointments of recent years leave many sceptical, and it will take time to demonstrate the opportunities.

Promoting our Neighbourhood

For all these things to happen, we must be positively minded and positively promote Crosby. Marketing by old and new methods, events, and community activity in the village all play an important part in setting the scene for a positive future for Crosby. Every music festival, school project, or seasonal performance brings extra life to Crosby Village and from such little projects (acorns?), big things grow (trees!).


Work is underway preparing this plan which will set out how all the different things work together, but before we complete our suggestions – which we want to do in consultation with landowners and the council, we would like any feedback you may have on the principles we have set out.

We hope to hear from you, we will be circulating our suggested Masterplan soon.

August 2011