Get involved in the future of Formby

A family explore the sand dunes at Formby

Formby is a much-loved nature haven for wildlife and people. This glorious stretch of coastline boasts one of  Europe’s best sand dune habitats – caring for such a unique and changing coastline creates some interesting challenges and many exciting opportunities.

Together we can shape future plans to protect this precious landscape and the rare species that call it home, while ensuring this special place can be enjoyed by everyone who loves to visit, for ever.

On this page:

Our commitments to people and nature  

We know any plans for Formby must delicately balance coastal conservation work with the needs of the community who live here, as well as the needs of those who love to visit. We’re committed to:

  • Working with nature to restore and create important coastal habitats, so that rare species can thrive  
  • Improving access and the experience people have when they visit  
  • Listening to and involving National Trust volunteers and members, local people, and visitors in our plans to care for Formby 

Formby's shifting shoreline

Any frequent visitors to Formby will know that the landscape doesn’t stay the same for long. It’s one of the fastest changing stretches of coastline in the National Trust’s care. Find out more about Formby’s shifting shoreline by watching this video.

What's happening at Victoria Road?

For many years we’ve been exploring how to adapt to the natural changes happening at Victoria Road and remove the unsightly rubble spilling out on to the beach. The aim of this project is to restore rare wildlife habitats and create a healthier, more natural place for everyone to enjoy. The proposed way forward has been shaped through conversations with the local community, National Trust members and visitors, as well as advice from conservation specialists.  

The proposal 

The team are working on a planning application that will soon be submitted to Sefton Council, which puts forward some important changes to the coastline and car parking at Victoria Road.

We’re proposing to restore the natural sand dune habitats at Victoria Road by removing the existing beach car park and associated construction rubble. The majority of the rubble materials would be used to create a replacement car park further inland.

Mapping out the proposal

We've been working closely with conservation experts and architects to find the right solution that will bring benefits to both wildlife and people at Victoria Road.

This map image shows where the dune restoration work would happen and the proposed location for the replacement car park, further in land.

" Sand dunes need to be free to move. This movement creates the habitats rare species, including natterjack toads, need to thrive. Some of Formby’s sand dunes have become too stable and disconnected. Dense scrub vegetation has taken over and unnatural elements including old construction rubble and dumped tobacco waste are creating barriers for natural processes."
- Kate Martin – Lead Ranger, Formby and Central Lancashire

Benefits for nature and people at Victoria Road

If our planning application is successful, this conservation work will provide long-lasting benefits for people and wildlife, restoring Formby’s sand dunes to their natural state and making them more dynamic, re-invigorating the natural processes needed to protect and bring new life to the dunes, and re-connecting important sand dune habitats, creating space for wildlife to thrive. 

This proposal also includes the removal of unsightly and potentially hazardous rubble on the beach, creating a safer, more beautiful area for wildlife and visitors to enjoy. We are proposing to repurpose the majority of this rubble in the construction of a replacement car park at Victoria Road, avoiding the many thousands of lorry movements through Formby that would be required if we moved the rubble off the site. 

While we are proposing that we will remove the existing Victoria Road car park, the replacement car park would provide better laid out, more defined car parking spaces, making parking more efficient and improving traffic flow on and off the site. We would maintain the number of visitor car parking spaces in the long term – in the current car park, around 1/3 of spaces have been reclaimed by nature since the 1980s due to the natural movement of the sand dunes.

What will the short-term impact of the proposed work be?

If  planning permission is granted there will be no National Trust car parking available at Victoria Road while we carry out the work.  

However, the National Trust car park at Lifeboat Road will be open as normal and the vast majority of Formby beach will still be open for visitors to enjoy.

We will continue to keep visitors to Formby updated on our page Planning your visit to Formby, which includes other coastal places to visit nearby, public transport information, plus tips on how visitors to Formby can be mindful of local residents.

Your feedback 

We’ve consulted widely on this proposal, including a focused period of engagement in summer 2021, which reached over 45,000 people and gathered valuable feedback from the local community and visitors.

What are the next steps? 

There are a number of formal steps we need to take before we can start this work that will help ensure it’s the right long-term solution for people and wildlife. This has included submitting a scoping report to Sefton Council earlier this year, as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment. The next step will be submitting the planning application. 

This detailed and important process that has taken several months. We’re aiming to submit the planning application in the summer of 2022 and will share updates on this page.  

How is this project being funded?

This important project is being made possible thanks to a significant contribution towards the dune restoration work from the UK-wide Dynamic Dunescapes project with funding from EU LIFE and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, alongside the money raised from National Trust memberships and visitors.

What's happening at Lifeboat Road?

In 2017 the National Trust began caring for an additional 204 hectares of land at Lifeboat Road. On-going conversations with visitors, members and the local community highlighted the need to explore ways to improve facilities for those who love to visit. The most popular suggestions were toilets, catering and a place for people to meet.


A vision for Lifeboat Road 

In 2019 we asked four architects to produce posters illustrating proposals for a new café and toilets at Lifeboat Road that would complement the natural environment. We asked local people for their views – here's what they said.

Your feedback

We’ve consulted widely on this proposal and the initial design concepts using social media, on site posters and local press coverage as well as emails to and drop in sessions with volunteers, members and community stakeholders. The team also gathered lots of useful feedback by welcoming people to come and chat at local community events and locations including the Formby library, Formby Market and Formby Festival.

What are the next steps?

The plans for Lifeboat Road were put on hold due to the pandemic. However, the team have recently been able to revisit these proposals.

Over the coming months there will be some initial land and utilities survey work carried out to help shape future proposals for Lifeboat Road.  

Feedback on the initial concepts is helping the team select an architect who really embraces and understands the complexities of this challenging and exciting brief. We’re hoping to appoint an architect late Spring to early Summer of 2022. We’ll then work closely together to consider and incorporate your ideas and views. The team are focused on delivering a design proposal that will create the facilities visitors want, whilst complementing the natural environment and minimising impact on wildlife.

We'll continue to consult and share updates as this proposal develops on this page, through social media and out in the local community. 

Get in touch

Your feedback matters! Questions and comments from those who love to visit Formby's nature haven have really helped shaped our thinking so far.  

Get in touch to share your views, or ask us anything about the work we do:

Latest updates

14 Mar 22

Drainage investigations take place at Victoria Road

Soakaway pits are created in the proposed project area. The results will be used to inform future proposals.

23 Feb 22

Scoping Report submitted to Sefton Council for Victoria Road

Outlines the proposal to remove the rubble and relocate the existing car park, what other options have been explored and the planned environmental assessments to measure the impact this work would have on Formby’s precious wildlife, people who love to visit and neighbouring residents.

17 Jan 22

Lifeboat Road surveys

Land and utilities survey work commenced at Lifeboat Road to help shape future proposals.