Croxteth Hall is one of Liverpool’s finest heritage buildings, dating back to 1575. This beautiful property has survived two world wars, and has remained unchanged in a city that has transformed dramatically since the first bricks were laid on the land.
Anyone aware of my past projects will know I am passionate about preserving our historic buildings, with the aim to ensure the architecture, history and stories can be shared with the public for many years to come.
Just like 30 James Street, I never view myself as the owner of the building, merely the custodian of our heritage, lovingly caring for a property until it is time to pass the baton to someone else. It is for this reason that Croxteth Hall captured my attention and interest. As we all know, councils are here to run our cities; they do not have, nor do they state, they have the skillset or desire to run such projects.
Before all the residential areas, shops and churches, there was Croxteth Hall, standing in the heart of 500 acres of farmland, serving as the home to the Earls of Sefton until 1972. As well as serving as the home to notability, it has also welcomed Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children in 1851. This is just one of the many stories I would intend to share with our guests, celebrating the remarkable past of this exquisite building and grounds.
The Initial Proposal
It is well known there are two main ingredients that have helped Liverpool flourish over the last several years: our people and their never-say-die attitude. Our locals’ wit and warmth is also complemented by our remarkable heritage buildings, second to London only, with over 2,500 listed buildings. The English Heritage has also described Liverpool as England’s finest Victorian city.
With this in mind, we need to re-engage our finest qualities with the world, promoting our key assets, which will only help in our city’s rise, and our proposed project could, without any doubt, bring prosperity not just to Croxteth, but the wider area.
Also, I thorought believe we need to provide our historic buildings with a reason to survive, giving this old boy a new set of clothes by creating a stunning hotel, whilst not changing any of this building’s DNA and, most importantly, opening it up on a 24/7 basis to all. Croxteth Hall and Country Park has belonged to Liverpool City Council since the last Earl of Sefton passed away in 1972, which is why I have made no effort to purchase the property. We simply would hope to gain a long leasehold interest in the building, ensuring Croxteth Hall was always owned by Liverpool City Council and the people of Liverpool.
I am very much aware that Croxteth Hall is a landmark to the people of Liverpool – which is why I released one of many blueprint designs for Croxteth Hall and Country Park to the Liverpool Echo, as part of a public consultation, before I approached Liverpool City Council for consideration. We encouraged the public to provide us with feedback, both on the Liverpool Echo and through our Facebook pages, so we could identify a general consensus.
It is my vision to breathe new life into this magnificent building, ensuring the property survives another 500 years. My initial idea was not only to transform Croxteth Hall into a luxury hotel, wedding venue and community events space, but to feature a glass eco-domed swimming pool, wooden log cabins and an educational nature trail.
Due to the public’s thoughts, we found that there was 20% of the public, that were not happy with the eco park, with around 80% supporting the idea. As I have stated earlier. this is your Park and you decide what happens here and, due to this, we have decided to drop the pool and the log cabins.
Signature Living currently work with a number of Merseyside colleges – taking on three apprentices from the Croxteth area just last week. Well, as an extension to this, our initial proposal featured a training college within the grounds of Croxteth Park. Not only would we provide the local area with fantastic apprenticeships, but with a genuine path to long-term employment.
Our proposed plans were welcomed by the local community, and we were delighted with many of the comments received, both on Facebook and the Liverpool Echo. However, we did face opposition from Councillor Steve Munby, who stated our design for Croxteth Hall and Country Park as “difficult to reconcile”.
I don’t see how a yearly investment into a site, which is costing Liverpool City Council £3 million per annum to preserve, is “difficult to reconcile”. Not only do we want to take over a long-term leasehold of the property, but we actually want to create local jobs, boost tourism and provide regeneration to the area. I am shocked Councillor Munby chose to publicly air his views before we had the chance to receive public feedback; before we potentially put forward the proposed plans to Liverpool City Council.
I am a local businessman with a local interest. The restoration of our historic properties is at the heart of most of my projects, because I wholeheartedly believe Liverpool is a city that must be explored by people from across the world. Croxteth Hall is a popular local attraction – but it is my intention to make it a national or even international attraction, because it has the history and beauty to become just that.
Without any disrespect, Councillor Munby is not a Liverpudlian. He was not raised in this city, as I was being raised in Walton. Maybe he does not realise the importance of a genuine investment, in cash terms and genuine employment, you certainly would not disregard any proposal without gaining public consultation. I do believe the people of this city should understand exactly what is happening with our city’s assets and, by publishing our thoughts, it will only create debate before a decision can be made.
As a business, Signature Living now bring in excess of £30 million pounds of ancillary spend to our bars, restaurants and stores.
I was born here, I have one home and that is in the centre of our city. I am so passionate about creating a brighter, better Liverpool, which goes beyond the city centre.
Most local politicians would welcome investment and ideas from local businessmen, who have a vested interest in this city. I do not doubt that Mayor Joe Anderson is open to all projects that could benefit Liverpool and its residents.
My proposed plans are a perfect example of how we can be entrepreneurial when reaching out to cash-starved suburbs. It is my vision to revive an area that could actually flourish – it just needs the right investment.
The New Proposal
After taking on-board each comment we received on our proposed plans, we are happy to announce a new proposal for Croxteth Hall and Country Park. It has always been our goal to provide the local area with an exciting attraction that celebrates the park’s history, whilst providing superb opportunities. Here’s what you can expect…
A Luxury Hotel, Wedding Venue & Community Events Space
We will continue to plan for a luxurious hotel, wedding venue and community events space within Croxteth Hall and Country Park. However, we have chosen to remove the glass eco-domed swimming pool and log cabins from our original design.
Our hotel will complement the picturesque scenery of Croxteth Park, bringing people together through spacious, stylish and comfortable accommodation. We believe Croxteth Hall and Country Park would provide a romantic backdrop for a happy couple’s wedding day, which is why they can create history in a hotel that has been defined by it. Our talented marketing team will also endeavour to showcase the building’s stories, allowing everyone to learn more about this magnificent property.
During my last visit to Croxteth Park, I found myself enthused by this amazing structure and went off to search for a book or leaflet, to give some foundation to my scant knowledge, only to find the little store within the grounds had nothing at all that related to this building. I would certainly ensure this building’s entire history would be chronicled in a new book.
Croxteth Hall would also feature a relaxing spa, welcoming people from across the city to indulge in a spot of pampering. Guests can pick from a variety of superb spa treatments, offering a brand new service to the area. It is also the perfect place for afternoon tea.
The hotel has left our children behind for many years, opting to provide many opportunities to Liverpool University students, who have no intent to stay within our city or within our industry. By the time our city’s youths have the option to work, many of them may have missed what should be their opportunities. Waking at 7am for work is an ethic that is instilled from an early age. If you don’t have the need to go to work, you could very easily find it too difficult to step back into that area. I aim to change this practice set by my predecessors.
Our apprenticeship college will be a dominant part of our plans, as we will strive to provide the local community with a viable route to employment. Our goal is to educate young people with maths, English and presentations skills, which will allow them to embark firstly upon an apprenticeship, before moving onto a professional career at Signature Living and beyond.
Signature Living is growing each and every year, offering young people with a variety of local, national and international employment opportunities. With numerous hotels located across Liverpool, The Coal Exchange opening its doors in Cardiff soon, and future opportunities in Marbella, Belfast and Manchester, our goal is to have a Signature Living in every major city in Europe. One day we will provide young people with fantastic career prospects that have the potential to take them across the world.
We believe any child, from any background, has the potential to go onto great things. I was one of those children, having left school at the first possible opportunity one Easter, before I even took any exams, opting to gain employment. Before long, I was unemployed with no qualifications and no options – which is why we want to bring this facility to Croxteth, so an area from outside the city centre can benefit from personal development and regeneration, providing our children with much-needed aspirations.
Croxteth Hall will become Signature Living’s centre of excellence – a high end hotel served by its local community.
Free Horse Riding for the Community
Few places across the city provide children with free horse riding – but we plan to do just that, should we be lucky enough to gain a leasehold for Croxteth Hall and Country Park. Young people can enjoy a fun new activity that will encourage them to enjoy the great outdoors, which has the potential to lead to a passion or career. We also plan to reach out to bird watching communities, as well as the RSPCB and clubs and scouts, to provide other activities for visitors to enjoy at their leisure.
It’s hard not to be interested in a building that dates back to 1575. As mentioned earlier, one of the most interesting eras of the building was the visit from Queen Victoria in 1851, which is why we plan to offer an onsite museum that celebrates the Victorian way of life. Guests can learn more about the hall, royal visit and Victorian era through various items and exhibitions, which will be on display for the public to enjoy.
Children’s Play Area
I am a very proud father to five wonderful children. It has always been my goal to provide each of them with the best in life, like every parent. That’s why I will incorporate a play area for children with disabilities, providing them with a fun, educational and comfortable space for little ones to play and learn.
Our Pledge to the Croxteth Community
Our plans for Croxteth Hall and Country Park have the potential to transform the area, which will lead to further investment, multiple job opportunities, an increase in tourism and regeneration. To ensure the development of the area, Signature Living pledge to donate 30% of the Croxteth Hall and Country Park profits to the local community. We will also ask local councillors and community leaders to sit on the board to select the worthy causes across the area. Croxteth Hall is currently costing Liverpool City Council millions of pounds in upkeep each year; we can take away the financial drain, whilst creating a tourist attraction that celebrates the building – with the profits invested back into the community.
Liverpool is currently the 6th most visited city in the UK, and the third most visited city by foreign visitors – but I do believe we can push past each city to be no.2 to London. If you’d have said 20 years ago that our city would one day become a popular tourist destination, I don’t think anyone would have believed you – but we are now and, in the same vein, I do believe that Croxteth Hall, will also be a huge part of Liverpool’s resurgence as an amazing tourist destination. We will ensure that our online team will create a huge social beacon that will circulate many of this building’s colossal historical past.
Please let me know your thoughts on our new proposed plan. I’d love to hear everyone’s ideas on how we can create a luxurious venue that helps celebrates the past, whilst providing the Croxteth community with a fantastic future.