Today’s announcement of £1.5 billion’s worth of developments is a welcome shot in the arm for some of the city’s most blighted areas: the buddleia-infested facades of Lime Street, and the grim procession of Mount Pleasant especially. It’s also, of course, a welcome bit of positive PR ahead of next week’s elections.
The proposals show the transformation of Lime Street, Mount Pleasant, and King’s Dock – with major redevelopments including the old ABC cinema – to be turned into some kind of TV and music studio hub, while the old Futurist cinema would be converted into a hotel, cinema, family restaurants, shops and (of course) student accommodation. The hideous Mount Pleasant car park, and the iconic 051 building (and, therefore, Smokey Mo’s karaoke) is set to become a new landmark building.
Kings Dock is set to see an Olympic standard ice rink to the city – to further boost the city’s ambitions to stage the Commonwealth Games here – along with an extreme sports complex, restaurants and residential developments.
“These schemes demonstrate there is a vibrant, exciting future ahead for Liverpool,” Joe Anderson says. “The projects we are developing for Kings Dock and Lime Street will make the city an even greater place to live, work and invest.
“Crucially though, they will bring thousands of jobs into the city which will ensure we have a sustainable future,” he adds.
Lime Street is one of the city’s most shameful stretches of real estate: a shabby row of dilapidated store fronts and crumbling Art Deco stonework. Worryingly, the artist’s impressions show the total demolition of the beautiful Futurist facade, to be replaced with an anodyne wall of any-town shop fronts: let’s hope some more thought is given to the real thing. We don’t want the baby thrown out with the bathwater again, do we? The Crown’s just been revamped and is looking lovely – what it doesn’t need is a bland row of chain stores as neighbours. Lime Street could be a real independent boulevard: the shop units are nice and small (one of the only city centre streets left that can offer start-up retail spaces). What a great way to welcome visitors that would be. Left unchecked, we know what happens in Planning. Two words: student flats. Oh, make that four: student flats and Tesco.
“It is one of the first things visitors to our city see when they step off the train and I am committed to transforming this into the gateway our world-class city deserves,” Anderson says.
It is, however, despite the glitzy, computer generated renderings, something of a wish list – with funding still being negotiated. How it will happen, who’ll get the contracts, where the money comes from: the fine print is being hammered out.
Still, the priorities are to be commended: and the timescales are impressively trim: with Lime Street set to be completed within two years (“although if HS2 happens, we’d have to amend the scheme, so that might delay things,” a Council spokesperson told us.)
Kings Dock will take three years to complete – and might be the work of a single developer, or the combination of a number of successful bids.
Shiny new developments at Kings Dock are fine – and will fit in well with the new Exhibition Centre – but Lime Street is one of the city’s great streets, and the student ghetto looming above the station is a real horror story. Let’s hope a sympathetic development scheme, finally, brings it back to its former glory.
We applaud this development, but we have one wish of our own to pass on to Planning:
Let’s keep Lime Street local, eh?
We’ll know more by the end of the year.