Picture 61

The future starts here. Today, Joe Anderson, together with Liverpool Vision chief Max Steinberg, release the details of the city’s new Strategic Investment Framework (SIF): the big ideas set to take the city forward for the next 15 years.

To cut to the chase, if the last decade-and-a-bit was all about shiny new buildings, the next one is about joining them all together, and creating a city that’s easier to live in, and easier to love.

It’s regeneration, but with a softer edge. Less ‘big ticket’, more ‘little details’. It’s green spaces, open squares, pedestrianised streets and distinctive neighbourhoods. And, as far as SevenStreets is concerned, it’s a well-thought-out, optimistic and inclusive approach that joins the top of the city (the ‘Knowledge Quarter’ and Georgian Liverpool) with Hope Street, Lime Street with Liverpool ONE, and The Strand to the city.

It creates huge new, European-style piazzas, restricts the bus-clogged artery of Dale Street, and – finally – brings the Baltic home.

It’s no secret that Anderson’s identified a key selection of sectors ripe for driving the city’s economic growth. These, wherever they pop up in the city, are squarely in the Mayor’s crosshairs. Financial and Business Services, Life Sciences, Creative and Digital and Culture and Tourism.

Key Projects

When it comes to changing the shape of the city, don’t expect any Liverpool Two’s or new skyscrapers punching the air. Instead, expect to see cosmetic changes concerned with interconnecting, and joining up the dots.

Waterfront

With movement along the Waterfront interrupted by a combination of incomplete links (between the Albert Dock and Mann Island for instance) the gaps will be closed, new pathways created between the ACC and the Museum of Liverpool, and an ‘all seasons’ route built (whatever that is). Increased use of the water will be encouraged, with an ‘extreme sports’ facility.

The Migration Centre and the new Exhibition Centre are the main additions – together with a permanent home for the cruise turnaround facility.

What’s less clear is when the SIF goes into dream mode, with airy talk of vacant office space in the three graces: “The buildings will be assured a long term viable future and their surroundings will be animated by achieving full occupation, whether for office use as part of the city’s offer of exceptional refurbished floor space in the World Heritage Site located buildings.”

Yes? How? It’s short on details when it comes to stuff like this.

St George’s

The SIF is at its most radical when it arrives at St George’s Plateau – aiming for nothing less than ‘Liverpool’s Trafalgar Square’. And we can really see this happening. A new signature space for our city’s main muster station.

There’s talk of ‘de-engineering’ the highway network, giving the streets back to the people. It’s a horrible word, but its aim is true: of making the space between Lime Street station and St George’s hall a huge, open city square.

The flyovers will be removed at Hunter Street, and the walls to St John’s Gardens will be taken down, allowing the gardens to spill out onto William Brown Street, and run up to the steps of our refurbished library (with new external exhibition spaces at the rear) and World Museum.

Central

The Central project will create strong links between Lime Street and Church Street, and embed the new Central Village squarely at the heart of a re-energised city centre.

The project will ‘tie in’ key assets including the Cavern Quarter, Met Quarter, St John’s Centre, Clayton Square and Bold Street into a retail offer that, they say, will focus on independent retail, higher quality outlets and buildings. Again, how that’s going to happen, when Merepark has already seen the loss of independent tenants on Bold Street is anyone’s guess.

Williamson Square will lose the ugly building that’s currently home to the LFC store, and a largely pedestrian-friendly Dale Street will link in to the Met Quarter and Cavern Walks.

Knowledge Quarter

With LJMU transforming the old sorting office into a gateway building for the city’s learning zones, and investment in Brownlow Hill and Mount Pleasant, the journey between city centre and Knowledge Hill should be a more inspirational one for our lovely students. A new bio-campus and science park will further boost the city’s excellent life sciences research.

There’s even going to be a Knowledge Quarter Gateway adjacent to the Adelphi, a ‘cafe culture’ within the quarter, to encourage people to ‘mix and exchange ideas’ (and we guess that’s why they’re extending the School of Tropical Medicine, too, for those awkward post-exchange moments), public realm investment and provision of ‘green infrastructure’ will create ‘memorable journeys and spaces’. Students eh.

Commercial District

Now largely centred on Old Hall Street and St. Paul’s Square, the Commercial District will see improved links between it and the cluster of offices on Princes dock with a massive super-crossing – and there’s an entirely new district of the city, too. Pumpfields. Sounds a bit filthy, is in fact the area around Pall Mall, ripe for redevelopment. If there are any takers.

Great Streets

The city’s main routes from the top of town to the waterfront will be getting Nicky Hambleton Jones and a team of cosmetic surgeons in to give them a spruce up like they’ve never seen. From Hope Street to Dale Street, Lime Street to The Strand, pop-up parklets, pedestrian rights of way, cycle lanes and recycled seating will create an axis from head to heart (if Knowledge is head and the UNESCO bit is heart. Work with us on this one…).

Honestly, it’s gonna be like Silent Running. Street trees, green roofs and ‘productive landscapes’ will mingle with public realm improvements. The Strand will see teeny breathing spaces in the middle of the road: bushes and benches which form pedestrian ‘bridges’ – major landscape interventions, greening this – let’s face it – hard to love dual carriageway.

Water Street, Dale Street and Lime Street will see major pedestrian-friendly intrusions, new public squares (such as at Cheapside/Dale Street and Moorfields) will create breathing spaces, and walking and cycling will replace public transport and cars as the primary focus for movement. The provision for busses, boldly, will be subservient to these aims. Three cheers for that. Dale Street has become an embarrassment for the city – and a paycheck for Arriva. West Moorfields (the derelict land behind Turning the Place Over) is earmarked for a new development, too.

There’s similar shuffling around of priorities in Hope Street too, with a rabid keenness for us all to rediscover St James Gardens – like we want to hang with EMOs.

The Distinctive Neighbourhoods

Underpinning the city’s economic ambitions, Anderson’s keen to focus on creating a more diverse residential population (he’d better keep an eye out for the rising epidemic of private student halls then), including the provision of housing for families as well as for young and older people. He’s identified six key areas:

The Waterfront
Ropewalks
Baltic Triangle
Canning/Georgian Quarter
Marybone
Downtown
Islington

They’re all offered a similar mix of promotional activity, to be led by the Community Interest Companies, private sector stakeholders, co-ordinated neighbourhood approaches and ‘infestation’ by small businesses.

In Downtown “the prestige and glamour of Victoria and Dale Streets can be brought back to this area once more… revitalising the streets and spaces and reinvigorating the historic heart of Liverpool.” It’s short on detail as to how, exactly this will be achieved. Closing Kingdom might be a start.

The Ropewalks is a place to “attract young indies, city breakers, students, and creative and cultural businesses…”. Has anyone told Cllr Munby? Or is no-one speaking to him these days?

“It needs to attract more investment and development activity, to accommodate more creative and digital businesses, apartments, and cultural attractions…” it says, adding “Duke Street should be transformed into a thriving city street linking Liverpool One and the Waterfront to the Anglican Cathedral.”

We think this is a bit rich, bearing in mind the troubles this area has seen of late. Mostly due to the Council’s poor process. “A creative vision is needed,” the framework says. Yes, we know. Let us get on with it.

In the Georgian Quarter, get this, “property owners should be encouraged to convert apartments back to single dwellings, and to restore buildings to their former glory”

There truly is nothing new under the sun.

“The Quarter needs a clear vision and plan, engaging with local communities, which enable the registered social providers to buy into a phased regeneration of their stock to open up the area to a more balanced neighbourhood..” it continues in a freeform, arm-wavy kind of way.

The new Framework will, it’s hoped, create a city that’s attractive for visitors, residents and businesses, and a greener, more sustainable city centre.

When it drills down to details it’s encouraging: we approve of the radical overhaul of our streets, of stopping the reliance on busses in the city centre, and of our continued investment in our cultural and knowledge quarters. We’re great at that.

Much of the SIF is vague though – more a wish list than an action plan. There is no clear understanding of where the money will come from. Much of it reads like a letter to the cosmos. But when you’ve no money, whether you’re Mayor of Liverpool or shopping on Amazon, it’s good to have a wish list. It’s a start – a call to arms, and a statement of intent.

There is much to be done. As our feature the other week showed, Liverpool has millions of square feet of empty buildings. And relatively empty pockets.

As the SIF document says, this is merely the next 15 years. It’s not the end of the story. We’ve a long way to travel yet. Good job we’ve got plenty of public realm seating to rest our weary legs on the way.

pics: Liverpool Vision

  • Rob

    Some really interesting stuff here. Will take me a while to process it all. Some weird suggestions, but overall it looks very positive.

  • bornagainst

    “walking and cycling will replace public transport and cars as the primary focus for movement”

    As much as I hope so, I just can’t actually believe this… They’ll paint some bloody useless cycle lanes, and add a few bits of pavement, but they’ll never do anything truly bold….

    It’s pretty brutal to try and cycle from Mann Island to Myrtle St, and it’s just crazy to think this will become a ‘primary focus for movement’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaunche Shaun Holdom-Eyles

    Where is the report? Sounds like it’s worth a read, some really interesting ideas in there.

  • David Lloyd
  • andyohare

    haven’t read the report itself yet, but what an excellent and informative piece.
    I came here after reading the Echo’s article, which mostly consists of soundbites and almost no substance. Once again, sevenstreets showing how it should be done

  • James

    The above picture of the Strand worries me a little – keeping such a key artery flowing is really important to ensure people want to come here and the image indicates perhaps a widening of the central reservation to accommodate green space. I’m not going to be sitting down to have a conversation in the middle of a dual carriageway anytime soon.

    Instead of probably losing lanes to do this, in my mind a better idea would be to shrink the central reservation, move the lanes inwards, and extend the pavements either side outwards – line the pavement edge with trees (and proper leafy trees, not the daft weedy lollipop ‘branchsafe’ brand of trees councils seems to favour thee days) to give respite from the traffic. Light it properly and you’ve got a really nice boulevard.

    Some good ideas in the plan overall, but as you say in terms of details I would like to see more.

    Good to see the proposal to open St James station and extend the underground to Liverpool Waters, but I would like to see more commitment to DOING than commitment to considering, especially re St James where the diggers should already be working to create an entrance, tunnel and concourse on the Baltic side of Parliament street (yep that’s right Mr BigWigs, a shack stuck on top of the current cutting won’t impress me much), along with people asking questions as to why those in charge hadn’t done it sooner.

    The best way to launch this plan would have been to simultaneously announce the first project is underway today,

  • James

    Also, since I kind of got my way with St James station (at least now being considered!), it’s probably also a good time to start campaigning on getting the City line working for Liverpool now too.

    We were always supposed to have an underground station at Crown Street to connect the London Road/University area with the rest of the city centre, so let’s have that too please.

    I would like to see some forward planning for local control of the City line, segregated and run by Merseyrail. We need regular 10-15 minute interval trains, not the odd frequency “service” we get at the moment. The lack of direct connection from Lime Street to the commercial district (and thus to Liverpool Waters) needs to be tackled – how about diverting the City line underground to new platforms at Lime Street, continuing to new platforms at Moorfields, Liverpool Waters, the Arena, before joining the Northern Line to boost its frequency, before branching off to the Airport at South Parkway?

    I think we need to get some big bold plans going if we are going to attract attention from places like Manchester and get the offices they speak of filled.

  • JudeJuggler
  • phil

    I’d prefer to see more detail – it’s easy to pluck ideas out of the air. It’s not even certain that Liverpool Waters will happen yet, so all this talk of regenerating the city centre is pretty premature, when you think of how poor the city is, and how little interest we’re getting in the way of blue chip companies. Even Amazon seem to have pulled out of Croxteth. We’re not even good enough for a packing plant. I don’t want to sound alarmist, but this is pie in the sky stuff.

  • Andrew

    This is effectively what was planned to be done when the loop was introduced in the 70s. The plan was for the edge hill spur reusing part of either wrapping or Waterloo tunnels and the branching the tunnel through to Liverpool central. This should be priority number one for merseytravel ns th mayor with regard to transport.

  • Andrew

    For a fraction of the cost of single tram line the whole city region could have cycle network to equal that of Copenhagen. Having lived and worked there I can see how the current approach will fail and what we need to be much more ambishious. There is a huge opportunity to leapfrog rival cities and “Copenhagenize” Liverpool. Copenhagen is a similar size to Liverpool with similar population, it ecev has the same local dish, scouse! The would be huge ecconomic, health and quality of life benefits. For every mile cycled the net benifit to society is approx 25p, same distantance by car is a net cost of 13p.

  • Wswin

    Whats the source of that statistic at the end there? I’m not for a second suggesting that its false, just interested.

  • http://twitter.com/nick_holloway Nicholas H

    I wonder if Joe is worried about the Canning/Georgian neighbourhood gradually falling to bits if left in the hands of private landlords.

    Perhaps it would fair better with caring owner-occupiers and social housing providers.

    I’m sure we’ve all encountered landlords who are happy to subdivide to maximise their income but neglect the fabric of the building.

    I for one have lived or have known people who have lived in many of the houses in the area and some of them do seem to need a little more TLC. I’m remembering crumbling, Escher-like houses on Falkner Street and a house on Canning Street where the lack of central heating and double glazing made for a horrific winter. Social would help bring these buildings up to code.

    There are a number of licensed houses of multiple occupancy in the Georgian area:

    32, 44, 81 Canning Street
    1 Catharine Street
    29 Falkner Street
    38, 44, 46, 56, 60 Falkner Street
    52 Huskisson St
    17 Little Saint Bride
    1 Princes Road
    13, 15, 19, 22 St Bride St
    33, 58 Upper Parliament St

    [Source: http://liverpool.gov.uk/Images/WebRegister13-6-12.pdf%5D

    …the number of flats I don’t know – a lot!… it’s a webscraping exercise for another morning 😉

  • Pat

    How about improving access to useful running and biking lanes along the river? I live in the city centre and (sometimes) enjoy running along the river from the Liver Building out towards Otterspool, but a third of the time I get stopped for 15 minutes mid-run by the drawbridge at the marina letting a couple sailboats go past. Kinda kills the running high. The riverfront is SUCH a treasure, that any city would die for. The shiny new arena/museum/convention centre are fine for here-for-a-day tourists, but what about improving the riverfront for people to actually use and enjoy on a daily basis, instead catering to “events”? Once you get past the arena, it’s a couple miles of elbow turns, drawbridges, and backlots of storage facilities. Run-down and uninviting.

    If you want young, creative career-types to move back into the city centre, it’d be nice to give them something more useful than museums and convention centres.

    (And yes, I realize drawbridges along running routes are first-world problems, but it’s annoying. So much potential in this city, and I hope someone takes advantage.)

  • John Walker

    Having skimmed through the whole report, what strikes me is the lack of attention provided to Liverpool Waters, and the revision of large chunks of the City Centre Movement Strategy (BigDig). Cities compete individually on a global basis, and this favours the Liverpool mindset, free of central Govt control, able to do something unique. What was served up by CCMS and proposed with the tram, only partially benefitted the cityscape, and was far from unique. Now we are to see an extension of vehicle exclusion, a most welcome major re-routing of buses (they largely run empty from Queens Sq to Mann Island & back all in the name of serving L.One), and the opening up of plaza’s / increased pedestrianisation & greening of public spaces as the city moves toward a bid for European Green Capital status – all very welcome.

    Seven Streets discussion contributors are right to highlight what transport infrastructure could additionally be provided underground – a host of former rail tunnels exist that could be brought back into use without compromising surface access, and as witnessed recently with the collapse of one tunnel by Park Rd, Toxteth, maintenance at some expense is already required.

    In taking away vehicle access, and reducing on-street accessibility to buses in the city centre, the great hope for cycling to fill the void comes forth – as has been undertaken in select European cities of late (Nantes, Avignon no less..). Regarding ‘Copenhaganizing’ the city, population density is paramount, with Liverpool having vast tracts of barely populated land surrounding the city centre to support mass cycling levels witnes on the continent (eg to Waterloo). Ample parking spaces exist at residential sites & in the city centre (another multi-storey car park at Central Village..) to facilitate car use…

    Still, there will be no tram.

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  • Andrew
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