Peregrine centre used as example of visitor centre that can be used for training purposes
D) Merseyside This case study was selected because Merseyside is located on a major British estuary and although much of it comprises a large urban area, it is not without valuable countryside and landscapes that act as as resources for users of open space. The Mersey Coast lies within the Liverpool Bay Natural Area (English Nature, 1999). Areas of the Mersey Coast are heavily developed, and major industrial and residential areas extend along it edged by docks, quays and promenades. In contrast, there are areas of relatively unprotected coast that have a wildness, with extensive areas of dunes, mudflats and salt marsh supporting high numbers of wildfowl and waders. At the regional level the coast is important as a visitor attraction and is accessible to nearby residents. The mixture of urban activity and wilderness is a key distinctive characteristic of the area and in this respect is not dissimilar to the Thames Gateway area. There are also new visitor and education centres being developed.
1) Characteristics of the area
The Merseyside conurbation incorporates the city of Liverpool and the urban/industrial areas of Birkenhead north-east of the mid-Wirral sandstone ridge. Urban sprawl has expanded since the establishment of Liverpool as a major port in the fifteenth century as a response to demand for Cheshire salt and Lancashire textiles, coal, pottery and metal goods and through its important trading role with other areas of the world. Some docks, such as the Albert docks, have been given new vitality with leisure and tourist developments. The spread of urban land took place in several phases manifested in pre-victorian cores around the water’s edge. Birkenhead has expanded up to the mid-Wirral sandstone and has a dense settlement pattern of housing and large-scale industry (http://www.countryside.gov.uk/LAR/Landscape/CC/north_wets/merseyside_conurbat…). Outside the Liverpool ring road the majority of development is post-war housing with some areas of farmland, golf courses and parkland associated with country houses. Birkenhead Park was a first of its kind and integrated residential development into a parkland setting. The amount of open countryside actually within the Merseyside conurbation is limited and generally restricted to isolated pockets of high quality grade 2 land, but the Leeds and Liverpool canal and railway network form important landscape corridors. The built-up landscape of the Liverpool conurbation dominates the north of the Mersey estuary and extends to Birkenhead and to the south and tends to cover up previous landscape elements.
In 2003 a new tourism strategy (Mersey Partnership, 2003) was launched with the aim of putting Liverpool on the map as being one of the top European destinations by 2015. Building on the success of being nominated as European capital of culture for 2008, and a World Heritage Site from 2004, the new Strategy predicted that Liverpool could be in the European Top 20 within a decade with an annual visitor spend of £1.8 billion supporting 40,000 jobs in the local economy. At present Liverpool City Region receives 19 million visitors annually with tourism being worth over £600 million and supporting over 22,000 jobs (http://liverpoolculture.com). The Mersey Partnership is a sub-regional body responsible for promoting Merseyside’s tourism interests. Part of the vision is that in 2015 Liverpool will be seen as a major retail centre with Mersey Ferries transporting visitors between a string of visitor centres forming the backbone of the Mersey Waterfront Regional Park which will provide a world class example of quality recreational space. Southport will be promoted as central to a campaign that has established North West England as England’s golf coast (an important use of open space), and the Wirral Waterfront will feature a space and astronomy centre.
Two key areas of relatively wild open space are the Sefton Coast and the Wirral Shore.