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BEACH FOR GARSTON IS NO JOKE; Waterfront idea started as April Fool.

Byline: CATHERINE JONES Social Affairs Reporter

A PLAN which started as an April Fool's joke could regenerate the Mersey waterfront and create hundreds of jobs.

Artist Alex Corina dreamed up the idea of a beach at Garston as an April 1gag.

But he says when he suggested it to friends, the last thing they did was laugh.

Now a ``think tank'' of architects and university lecturers has drawn up proposals for an environmental and cultural scheme covering several miles of key Liverpool riverside.

A two-day exhibition is due to be held next month to gauge public support.

The plans include a north west sculpture park built on part of the old Garden Festival site; a marina and luxury housing development at the old Garston docks; a mini ``Eden project'' education and resource centre built under glass pyramids, and the Garston sands and lido.

The think tank also suggested relaunching the historic boat service from Monk's Ferry at Cressington to Wirral.

The whole scheme would link up with a cultural village already proposed to regenerate Garston, and involves a seven-mile cultural trail from the Pier Head along the coastal path.

Mr Corina,from Garston, who created the Monalennon banners for St George's Hall, said: ``We're hoping our ideas will provoke discussion and debate.

``It's important that `bottom-up'ideas like this are given the opportunity. There are lots of people out there who will have ideas for Capital of Culture.

``And we want to get Garston on the agendas of the planners and those responsible for the regeneration of the area.''

He hopes an economic assessment and feasibility study can be carried out on the scheme.

Frank McKenna,a director of independent think tank Downtown Liverpool, said: ``The potential for Liverpool has never been greater, and the fact they are generating discussion is positive.

``Sometimes you have to come up with a proposal that engages people's imagination to get the various parties working together.

``If only 50% comes to fruition, we'd be a lot further down the road to regenerating the area than we are at the moment.''

Sara Wilde, chairwoman of Mersey Waterfront, said: ``We haven't seen the specifics of any plans but we welcome any creative ideas for the waterfront's development.

``But there are lots of individual owners and development initiatives along the waterfront that need to be taken into account.''

An exhibition of the plans will take place at the View Gallery in Mathew Street on May 4-5.

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BIG IDEA: Plans include a sculpture park for the old Garden Festival site
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 8, 2004
Words:423
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