JI_LimeSt_montage_0073[1]When a crime has been committed, the best course of action is to stay calm, look at the facts, and formulate a theory as to who’s to blame.

Lime Street’s master plan, revealed last week, has been roundly, universally and rightly pilloried by everyone – apart from Councillor Nick Small who, on a break from taking selfies with celebrities, said he believed the scheme was a “massive” improvement.

Good to know Mr Small’s standards are set so dizzyingly high for the city. Worth remembering that.

Curiously, Joe Anderson, hours after the Echo readers blasted the scheme, piped up on Twitter: “(these are) not very impressive plans needs and will be reviewed before approval.”

Now let’s look at this statement more closely.

Are these the plans that Regeneration Liverpool has been working on for over a year? Is it right that the first time Joe sees these is in the Echo? Or is more likely that, perhaps, he’d just crossed his fingers crossed and hoped we wouldn’t notice? Who knows what went on.

But, Joe, if you don’t like the plans, why not change them before they’re made public, instead of waiting to see which way the wind will blow? Because we’re still here. And we still care.

zzLime150514-620x400-1Fact is, these are not new plans. We didn’t like them a full ten months ago, when a similarly slipshod artist’s impression was released – showing the same contempt for the street: turning it into something resembling a suburban shopping arcade in pre-perestroika Kiev.

Joe, this is your watch. Lime Street is your legacy. You said so yourself:

“Lime Street has been an area which was forgotten for far too long,” you said, launching the city’s Strategic Investment Framework, two years ago. “I am committed to transforming this into the gateway our world-class city deserves, as it’s one of the first things visitors to our city see when they step off the train.”

Well guess what? The street hasn’t moved in those two years. And neither has its fortunes.

And what of developers, Neptune? Speaking in the Echo, Neptune’s Steve Parry said: “If you come to Liverpool as a student with your mum and dad when you are 17 you get the train to Lime Street, turn left at Mount Pleasant but you’ve got that awful entrance to the city… “If you speak to the universities, one of the biggest reasons why people say they don’t come to Liverpool is the quality of the student accommodation and the approach to campus.”

Who died and put the students in the planning seat? How about making a better city for the rest of us? How high up the priority list are we anyway?

From our vantage point (Lime Street, Saturday afternoon) we’re the only people keeping the street alive. We’re here, milling about in Worlds Apart, mulling over tattoos in Design 4 Life. Drinking in the Shamrock Bar. And, guess what, students are here too. There’s a scrum of them around the Twilight books, if you must know.

We bet Parry’s not been in Worlds Apart recently. We have. Their manager, Alan, says no-one’s been to see them. Not Regeneration Liverpool, Joe, Neptune. No-one. No-one sees that the place is really busy. Reports of its death have been somewhat exaggerated. But, naturally, Alan’s worried: “All we see are the stories in the papers. Don’t you think someone would have had the courtesy to come and talk to us about it?”

Well yeah, you would. But we heard the same stories about Chair of Regeneration, Malcolm Kennedy, from the market traders shoved off Great Homer Street, too.

What’s interesting about all these visualisations and fly-by videos is that none of them show the other side of the street. Because, we feel we should let Regeneration Liverpool in on a secret, Lime Street has two sides.

“We have expansion plans, the landlord’s currently upgrading the facia,” he tells us, pointing to the scaffolding outside. “People know about us, and they still come. If we’re given a CPO, we need to be assured that we’ll get an equally prominent new location. It’s just not right to place all this uncertainty on a business that’s keeping the street going.”

Time and again, it’s the people who keep trading in the toughest of conditions – the market traders, the street vendors, the independents, who are the last to know. Shoved out for supermarkets and student flats.

“My uncle used to be sell tickets at the Futurist,” he says, “he’d be devastated to see what the city’s planning to do to the place. To me, it looks like it was deliberately left to rot so that they could say it has to come down.”

“These schemes demonstrate there is a vibrant, exciting future ahead for Liverpool,” Joe promised, of the Lime Street project. “Lime Street will make the city an even greater place to live, work and invest. “I promised our best days are ahead of us, and these key projects are evidence of some of the things we have planned for the future….”

unnamed-6What do we think? We think, these days, it’s hard to say where a city’s soul is. Most have wiped them from the map. We think Liverpool’s is Lime Street.

We think it needs saving. And we think it’s not too late. Its skin might be peeling, but it’s got good bones. The street’s units are small – ideal places for young, enterprising retail and leisure units to test the market. And the perfect introduction to the city for those alighting at Lime Street, or the coach depot. We loved the media hub once-slated for the ABC, we don’t even mind that there’ll be student flats. It makes sense, when you see the plans LJMU have for Copperas Hill .

Liverpool_One_171But it’s the complete lack of ambition for the street-level animation that baffles us. Why can’t Neptune look to Paradise Street? A resounding success, and one that shows it’s possible to breathe new life into an old street, just 500 meters away? Why can’t we save the character of the street, and its jauntily distinctive skyline? Why can’t the street shout: ‘THIS IS LIME STREET. YOU’RE IN LIVERPOOL’?

Regeneration Liverpool, and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, have had more than enough time to prove to us they won’t settle for second best. This master plan clearly shows that, to date, they’ve failed us. Joe Anderson himself admits they’ve failed.

So, if Lime Street’s plans are a crime, we’d say they were guilty as charged.

“We aim to deliver a high quality revitalised Lime Street gateway, which creates the right impression of Liverpool, improve the experiences of visitors, residents and workers; improve the quality of the public realm; and connect up the city,” they promised.

How about, a full two years later, you get to work and instead of identikit apologies for civic planning, you actually come back with something that – for once – exceeds our expectations?

Because, Cllr Kennedy and crew, allow us to remind you of your duties: that’s what a world class city deserves.

31 Responses to “CSI Lime Street: Who’s Really To Blame?”

  1. joeshoo

    so sad to see the Futurist building being left to rot – never been inside, always wanted to – once brick and mortar’s gone, so is the history of the aesthetic that put it there in the first place. It’s awful

  2. Yer mam

    It’s a fucking disgrace that these business owner who have struggled to stay open, while the infrastructure around them is left to rot, are now going to be forced out.
    This city is littered with things that ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’. Councillors desperate to leave a legacy, to be remembered, but for nothing great.
    Even the glorious front is in the process of being bastardised by idiots who are doing as they wish with our money!!!
    Try putting an extension on your house, it has to be ‘in keeping’ with the surrounding area. Why aren’t the rules the same for a World Heritage site?
    One day someone will say ‘shit I think we’ve fucked up’, but by then the character will be gone.
    Dickheads.

  3. Andreas Schulze Bäing

    It always baffles me that in UK cities there is not more public debate very early in the design and masterplanning process. In many continental European cities the method of architecture or urban desing competitions is much more commonly applied, particularly for prominent public places like Lime Street.
    Such a competition would invite proposals. The submissions are often quite extreme and distinctively different from each other. And it does not necessarily meant that a winning scheme of a competition will be realised 1:1. But these competitions offer a platform to discuss and debate the advantages/disadvantage of different solutions and narrow these down to a good concept.

    Instead, like in this case, a developer just suggests a fairly uninspiring generic concept…

  4. Paul Doyle

    Let’s face it all they will put there is another Tesco express, a costa coffee and a subway, because we are desperate for more of them. It’s going to take a lot more than buildings of any shape and design to resurrect Lime Street it has no purpose other than as a through road in the city centre. Tourist information centre, sight seeing bus ticket office or something that can connect to the station and be useful. As for the proposed hotel, hasn’t central village just converted it’s planned hotel into student accomodation? It just seems the same student blocks are flying up with the same retail offering below. Let’s think bigger.

  5. If Lime Street was in the likes of Chester, Oxford or Durham, the calibre of plans would be so much higher. Why can designers not just give us something of architectural merit.

    It’s not just Liverpool, but this type of faceless building design keeps popping up in most of our post-industrialised cities. It’s as if the Core Cities have a building design standard far removed from the provincial cities. Rightly so in the case of skyscaper developments, but what of the smaller schemes such as this?

    I am no structural expert, the case about the Futurist needs further (unbiased) inspection. If it has to go, then it will be a sad day. But, I don’t see why the replacement building should be of poor design quality.

  6. Yet again. Our city’s local government is allowing itself to demolish heritage in favour of replicating the same inert, indistinguishable crap the rest of UK ‘town centres’ have. Another farce just like bibby’s warehouse or customs house being knocked down!

  7. Carl Ryan

    gone are the days when the city was run by people with vision and sense of civic pride. Now we have arrogant, bullying useless tosspots. Yes thats you Anderson, Kennedy, Small etc. Do the city a favour and fuck off to Russia.

  8. really really bad…! give us elegance, inspiration, architecture, a design that fits the areas classical hertitage……please don’t give us cheap, bland, uninspiring rubbish!!!

  9. boggled

    what i find most shameful about this plan is that far from it being from some out of town carpet baggers with no feel or love for the city, both the developer and the architects are local firms..

  10. JD Moran

    ““If you speak to the universities, one of the biggest reasons why people say they don’t come to Liverpool is the quality of the student accommodation”.
    You could be inclined from taking that as a good argument that building more and more student accommodation is actually a good thing for the city. To me though it raises questions about the quality of student accommodation that has been built in recent years. Why have they been approved if the quality is not good enough that yet more is needed year on year despite no apparent spike in student numbers?

  11. Foghorn Leghorn

    Neptune – beloved development partner of councils across Merseyside. God knows why – all they appear to do is make money by building things, often unwanted or unloved, or not to original promise (see New Brighton), using good ol’ taxpayers’ money.

  12. MarcusCrash

    I’m not as anti student as many on this forum but even I know this statement from Neptune is rubbish. The universities (and hence by extension the city) do definitely benefit from more accommodation being built in the city-centre – but it’s simply untrue to say that the accommodation situation is a current impediment to student recruitment. And don’t forget that what we may consider to be “good quality” is not necessarily how a student may see it – for evidence we only need to look at the aesthetically awful – but always full – Grand Central.

  13. JD Moran

    I’m not anti-student. I welcome them as a valuable addition to the city and I would like more to be done to encourage people to move here to study (just as I am for people to move here for work) and even more so for them to stay once they have graduated.
    My big concern is the volumes and concentration primarily and also the sustainability of basing a large part of regeneration and the city’s economy on the back of it.
    Having graduated in 2002 after living in several “typical student houses” I tend to actually think I have lower expectations when it comes to the acceptable quality of student accommodation than many do nowadays, but maybe that is just perception.

  14. This isn’t anything to do with price – there’s a lot you can do with £100 million, but it’s about ‘what can we get away with’ thinking that’s crippled this city: you only have to look at the crap they allowed on the World Heritage Waterfront, the Crowne Plaza and the car parks. Time and again, we allow monstosities like this to make us a laughing stock. And, guess what, it’s Neptune again. Two words: Mann Island

  15. Big urban projects like this need to be submitted for public consultation. This is our city after all. Since when did Neptune have the right to tear up one of the city’s most historic streets and ruin it for a generation to come. Look at St George’s Hall, and the gorgeous Lime Street station and tell me this design is fit for purpose? Whoever released these plans obviously has very little respect for the city I love.

  16. Mike Traynor

    If joe is upset at these plans he should take decisive action and shoot the messenger. He can’t distance himself from it, he’s the boss. The city won’t ever get the investment it needs if it puts up with second best all the time. Like someone said, this is London road all over again.

  17. Kate S

    Give a developer preferred status this is The fallout. Neptune’s past ‘glories’ speak for themselves. Give the street over to genuinely motivated young studios and see what really can be done. No student flats required

  18. Anyone know if that ABC thing is happening? I know it was in the Echo, but that doesn’t mean anything? I heard that it’s been pulled. Like the variety club thing that Urban Splash were going to do before it, and the media centre they were going to put in the Futurist? Seems like it’s all hot air and promises again.

  19. Gerry Proctor

    Fully agree with ASB and I don’t understand why the city doesn’t open-up the design process at an early stage which can be through competitions but also by simply inviting the people of the city and wider professionals to share their ideas of what the city should do with Lime Street. Let’s have more open government and more inclusive, citizen-empowering and participative democratic opportunities.

  20. Old buildings ain’t the main problem with Lime Street. I’m pretty sure it’s the lack of light, 4 lanes of pothole congestion and the sheer amount of filth. You feel as though you LICK the paving in neighboring Paradise Street let alone tiptoe through the vomit and kebabs at 5am. Therefore I propose cleaning the street and buildings, repaving it with fancy bricks, plant a couple trees, redirect the traffic and watch it resurrect to become the 8th Street.

  21. Developers should be kept on a very tight rein, these plans are absolutely appalling! There have been far too many mistakes made in the past, but they seem destined to be repeated, why ‘is’ this? How many historic buildings have been lost in Liverpool that could have been saved, and why weren’t they saved? ie The Custom House, The Sailors Home, The Casartelli Building, the old St John’s Market, and yes The Cavern, who made that particular howler of a decision?

  22. You think the lesson would of been learned after the debacle of Commutation Row years ago, where a run down but characterful row of Victorian shops where demolished to make way for a hideous monstrosity that looks like some sort of fiber glass castle from a theme park. Half of which is now empty. There is nothing wrong with any of the buildings which are currently proposed for demolition on Lime St that a lick of paint, some new signage and internal refurbishment could not rectify.

  23. Nom de Plume

    This is the biggest problem with Liverpool’s redevelopment. It it destroying the character of the city and replacing it with generic new builds.

    Lime Street needs something doing to it, but ripping it down and starting again isn’t the solution.

  24. Design 4 Life Tattoo

    Well said Alan, as a fellow business owner on Lime St it’s a disgrace not only that old historic buildings are being torn down to make way for Lego looking buildings, but also that shops trading on the street who are doing what they can to keep it Lime St vibrant aren’t being consulted about the plans. Shocking when you see a Video posted by the Echo in which your business no longer exists. David Lloyd did call into the studio for a chat but unfortunately it was a BUSY Saturday afternoon. Keep the futurist facade make an event space/garden behind it and set the student accommodation further back.

  25. Cinema buff

    This even on the artists impression looks like a post nuclear war nightmare.Who says new shops have to look like downtown Damascas?Rwally Liverpool is a city of vibrant ,creative people who deserve better than this! Surely amongst all the local talent there is an architect who can come up with a warm ,lively and practical use of the space ,some old ,some new that doesn’t make you want to move to a better war zone? If you want affulent shoppers prepared to spend cash you don’t build a cheap concrete box .

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