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Park plan dead in the water


A CONTROVERSIAL plan to expand the Gulliver’s World theme park into Sankey Valley Park is “dead in the water” according to a Warrington borough councillor.
Cllr Kevin Reynolds (pictured) says the “master plan” – first revealed in 2009 – will be unable to go ahead in its present form in the foreseeable future.
The demise of the North West Development Agency (NWDA) and the lack of other funding as a result of the recession will mean the scheme cannot go ahead.
Cllr Reynolds said: “A meeting of Liberal Democrat councillors for Whittle Hall and Westbrook was held at the Town Hall at which we were told the scheme as drafted will not be going ahead.
“It is effectively dead in the water.”
A £27 million plan to develop Sankey Valley Park as a major regional visitor attraction was unveiled in 2009. It was developed by a partnership consisting of the borough council, Gulliver’s World, tourism chiefs and the NWDA, which funded the plan.
The scheme included a hotel, indoor play park, holiday lodges, caravan park and other features. It would create up to 248 new jobs for local people.
But since then, anger has grown among local residents who claim the scheme would deny people access to parkland they have used for decades, cause traffic problems and was being pushed through with little or no consultation.
Cllr Reynolds said: “More than 20 people attended our councillors’ surgeries at the weekend expressing concern. But we were able to tell them the scheme will not be going ahead in its present form.
“This is partly due to opposition from residents and local councillors but also because of the recession.”
Great Sankey parish councillor Judith Wheeler – who lost her borough council seat in the May 5 elections – is working to set up a “Friends” group for Sankey Valley Park.
She is getting active support from Cllr Reynolds and other local Liberal Democrat councillors David Earl and Keith Gleave.
Cllr Reynolds: “We will be keeping a close watch on the park and we think it would be a good idea if local residents do too.”


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  1. Good to see the Lib Dumbocrat councillors working with the other councillors (from the other parties) in the area for the benefit of local people… but oh, no this “Friends of Sankey Park” seems to just be yet another group set, up by a local councillor, to wind local people up when there is nothing negative (as Cllr Reynolds points out) going to happen!

  2. Could they not have informed people that the ‘big plan’ wasn’t going to happen before now as they obvioulsy knew already if it was dependant of the now defunct NWDA etc….. it could have saved a lot of worry for the people who live around there who have been campaigning hard and spreading the word for the past month or so. Does this also mean that with no money no smaller improvements/developments are going to be made the the Sankey Valley Park area too though ?

  3. Mr Short

    Now I am no longer a Borough Councillor, I have a little more time to devote my energies to possibly setting up a Friends Group. Look how successful Friends of Walton Hal have been. This has nothing at all to do with party politics but something to benefit the whole community. But if you wish to bring politics into it, which I wasn’t, engaging with the community has always been a cornerstone of Lib Dem work within the ward. I didn’t see any evidence of interest in SVP from the Labour or Conservative candidates during the election. I look forward to their interest – and yours – in a Friends Group.

  4. Out of curiosity Councillor Wheeler/Reynolds… when did this meeting at the Town Hall happen? Will you tell us or do I need to do a Freedom of Information request? The NWDA is a sad story because local people never realised just how Warrington benefited from it but now that the ConDem govt has shut it down we’re slowly starting to realise what we are missing out on. I don’t know about the Sankey Valley Park scheme but as a Warrington Wolves rugby fan I’m gutted that the £1million promised to us has disappeared and our bid to be a World Cup venue is now in jeopardy.

  5. As the Conservative candidate for Westbrook I would advise all readers that I did indeed include Sankey Valley Park in my leafleting. Prior to the election campaign I contacted the WBC Planning Office to confirm the then current situation.

    I also issued a dedicated leaflet to the residents in the immediate vicinity to the proposed new road and coach park.

    I gave my commitment to supporting the residents in their actions to resist the expansion of Gullivers World any futher into the parkland and green walkway areas in Westbrook.

    As a resident of Westbrook my commitment to this action continues.

    A great deal of hard work in this respect has been done by the Save Sankey Valley Park group (non-political) via their Facebook page with many hundreds giving their support:

    Type “Save Sankey Valley Park” into the search box on Facebook.

    Please view these pages to provide support.

  6. Liebour;....Don't worry, the grandkids will pay! on

    Judith………………”engaging with the community has always been a cornerstone of Lib Dem work within the ward”……………… well what a load of nonsense that is…….How many of us local residents complained about the proposed traffuic lights at ASDA in Westbrook? How many of us told you local LibDums how bad it would make the traffic in the area (I regularly queue from 3 roundabouts back along Cromwell Avenue to get home) and yet all we got were excuses and lies as to why there couldn’t be zebra crossings near roundabouts etc…… David Earl was an ardent supporter of thos lights and if his seat would have been up for contention earlier in the month; I fear he would have joined you and the other ex LibDum councillors…. Your party has absolutely no idea of traffic management and has completely buggered up this town in the time you have been in charge……. you should all stick to having your photo taken pointing at things….. Jo Crotty was good at that (remember her?)…….No engagement, no consultation, just “We Know Best” politics….. lets hope that is now consigned to the bin

  7. Callands resident on

    As a member of the residents group, who made the initial contact with the local councillors and also set up the SSVP Facebook group, I can inform as to who I feel has been supportive. Initial contact was with David Earl and Stefan who have both been very supportive and who we met at their Councillor Surgeries. They also raised this in their FOCUS newsletter. Judith Wheeler was also at the surgery but to be honest expressed very little interest in the concerns of the residents. Bob McClaren (COnservative) met with the residents group and included the residents concerns in his leaflet. As a group we have tried to keep political parties etc out of it and have jus canvassed for support by as many councillors as possible.

  8. Mr McLaren – I was speaking for Whittle Hall not Westbrook (where most of the residents who were initially alarmed by the issues came from). Cllr Earl and Stefan were on hand for their residents. we were on hand for ours. But together we have hopefully answered some of the questions raised by all local residents.

    , Stefan and

  9. Well I’m really confused now… who actually drew up the 2009 plans then and why did people only start opposing it or drawing attention to it just prior to the elections ??? It was suddenly on the forum and in the local papers and news pages despite the plans being drawn up 2 years ago. Was it the election material that got the locals in a panic or were they already in a panic over it before but in a quieter way ? …..and still no-one has bothered to answer my question about WHY residents were not informed sooner that the 2009 ‘master plan’ will NOT actually be able to go ahead anyway in the forseeable future. Party politics at local level should be banned by the way 🙂

    I hope all local councillors and local party supporters both past or present will now all start to work together for the good of Warrington rather than for what their party advocates and it would be even better if they didn’t spend so much time and effort working against each or bickering,blaming and tittle tattling all the time just to score points 🙂 I wish the ‘Friends of Sankey Park’ all the best and I may even go there one day to see what it’s like these days as it’s only a mile or so from where I live 🙂

  10. So the Lib Dems draw up a plan, then they bring the plan to the attention of the public just prior to an election, then they fight against their own plan in the run up to the election and finally declare the plan to be dead in the water. You don’t need to be cynical to get a whiff of the party political stench that is all over this issue.

    Under the LibDem/Tory administration Sankey Valley Park has seen the loss of Bewsey Old Hall to develop into flats and to help the developers to be able to afford to develop the hall they have been given a huge swathe of woodland to develop into flats to sell, all free of charge. The public right of way has been lost which passed through the Gullibles World car park(old Base Road) and another swathe of land has been lost for GW’s hotel complex. Gullibles World have erected fences all over the place stopping residents and park users from accessing any previously traversable pathways.

    All in all the Lib Dems have little to be proud of regarding this issue.

  11. I notice that all of a sudden the LibDems councillors are refusing to tell us when the meeting at the Town Hall happened…. mmm….. maybe it was electioneering afterall, otherwise why would they be so quiet? Cllrs Wheeler and Regan… we have you clocked now and I’m sure we’ll remember this when you stand for re-election.

  12. When I started drafting my objection letter to this proposal a few weeks ago, pre the local election. I was already of the mind that this could just be an election campaign driver for votes, I discussed this with my partner. However I still commited to getting my objection letter in. One of the most sensible comments I’ve seen is for SVP to be put into a protected trust, a trust which would not allow negative developments for local residents. One which would focus on fostering a park for wildlife growth and co-existence with residents. This is the most sensible and desired path for SVP, would any coucillor step up to the plate to deliver such a result? What a way to gain significant standing in the community along with future votes….

  13. Council Tax Payer on

    I don’t live anywhere near SVP. However, it seems to me that Gulivers World is a “Regional” facility. Is it not rather nimby to object to funds being invested to rejuvenate this facility?

  14. So we, the Council Tax payers local to this “Regional facility” (whatever the hell one of those might be) should fund the destruction of our own natural environment so that a private company can improve its stock and make more money? Are you a complete fool or just pretending to be?

  15. Callands resident on

    Yes indeed GW is a Regional facility. Sankey Valley Park is an area of local beauty, for walkers, joggers, cyclists, families etc. I agree that with some investment from the council to help keep the trees/hedges tidy and a small cafe with toilets, this area would be rejuvenated. But destroying woodland, cycle paths, play areas and then charge people to walk through what is left of the park is not rejuvenating this facility at all. We shouldbe encouraging families and the community to use the park as a form of ecercies and geting fresh air as well as looking at the wildlife. As you dont live near SVP perhaps you should take a walk through there one day and see if it needs demolishing and sectioning off to improve it as a regional facility!

  16. The Save Sankey Valley Park action group are raising money to pay for legal guidance which will preserve the area from commercial development in the future.

    They do not believe that GW will lie down on this and neither will the action group.

    They are now accepting Donations on the official action group website


    Please visit the website and make a donation to support this cause

  17. Actually one councillor has donated to the Save SVP fund, obviously not at liberty to say who but it is very refreshing to have a councillor put their money where their mouth is!

    Save SVP have raised over £500 in less than a week but are still looking for more donations to stop commercial development on the park. Visit the website and donate if you support the cause!

  18. I was the Conservative candidate in Whittle Hall and am very concerned about this proposal which will affect us all however unlike some other candidates, I do not jump on bandwagons just because it is election time. I have joined the FB group and publisised it to my friends and when the Conservative Whittle Hall FB page is up and running in the next week or 2 put the link on there.

    I will help the group in any way that I can but not as an aspiring local councillor but as a resident. This campaign goes much further than politics, it is about local residents quality of life. Let us hope that local politicians don’t just try and use it to be elected….I wont.

  19. Mr Bradley, I assume that you will be helping the group out by way of a donation towards the legal fees which the group will encounter to ensure future protection from development on the park?

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