So, having declared a moratorium on new bars down Lark Lane our beloved council has boldly decided to greenlight, er, another wine bar.

I’ve mused before, elsewhere, on the character of Lark Lane and how its changed as the years have rolled by.

That cumulative impact assessment seemed to recognise that the advance of drinking establishments on Lark Lane had been to the detriment of the place.

But the council’s argument will be that properties may as well be used than stand derelict, especially during difficult times.

I find this a bit of a self-fulfilling argument. No-one’s going to head to Lark Lane for a pleasant browse around the shops if they have to fight their way through the overflowing bins, pissed-up nutters or pools of vomit on a Sunday afternoon.

So the shops struggle, and slowly fade away, and less people come to Lark Lane to shop, and businesses close, and buildings stand empty.

Anyway, the venue in question is the former greengrocer’s on the corner of Lark Lane and Waverley Road, Cabbages and Kings. As a business it always seemed rather chaotic, but I was glad it was there.

I once dropped a sweet jar full of chocolate raisins on the floor there and stood, bemused, as no less than three members of staff conducted what I could only describe as a massive freak-out. I put a fiver down on the counter and backed out, cartoon-style.

I liked the fact that Lark Lane used to be fairly hopeless like that. Over the last couple of years I’ve backed away from drunken on a Saturday night than hapless grocers much more frequently.

To suggest that the effect on the Lane of the explosion of bars has not been significant and unfortunate is simply untrue. The problem lies not, necessarily, in the bars themselves, but in their frequency.

The road has now become a destination in itself, where people turn up for drinks and stay all night.

Little wonder, with so many places you can now get a drink on the Lane. And whether you enjoy drinking there or not isn’t really the point.

Have a look at the number of licensed establishments currently (or scheduled to open soon) on Lark Lane – a residential street less than a klick in length – and ask yourself whether this can be good for a residential area famed throughout the city for its unique atmosphere and fascinating places to visit.

Que Pasa
The Albert
Low Bar
New Regent
The Parkfield
The Red Fort
Chili Banana

Due to (re)open:

Unnamed new bar on site of Cabbages and Kings

• Image by Rob with Twobs via Flickr

13 Responses to “Your Lark Lane greengrocer’s – now a trendy wine bar”

  1. This blurs the line somewhat by naming licensed restaurants as well as pubs / bars.

    Inviting a response from the council on this apparent u-turn might have been interesting. You may be right, but I think it’s wrong to second guess them.

    As for that greengrocers, I am struggling to remember when it was last open.

    I think fault here has to also lie with the drinkers, if they can’t control themselves / conduct themselves with a little more dignity. And the residents — were they heading up to Tesco for their plastic-wrapped cucumbers and tomatoes, instead of supporting a local business, before it pulled down the shutters for good? Did they do that out of laziness, or because the local business wasn’t up to scratch?

    I think the opening of cute places like the Moon & Pea and it’s sister deli demonstrate that the area still has something quirky going for it.

    It would be nice to know if there is a Lark Lane chamber of commerce and if they’d be receptive to questions such as ‘What do you think should be done to shape the area?’ and ‘Any chance of promoting real ale instead of this continental horsepiss’.

    But what do I know? I drink the continental horsepiss like horses were going out of fashion.

    Perhaps you could survey some local butchers / greengrocers / etc, and ask, if they ever thought of expanding, why they couldn’t give Lark Lane a go.

  2. I agree to be honest, I live in the area and had a knock on the door from the council a while ago asking me to answer a few questions relating to anti-social behaviour and the amount of bars in the area. It’s certainly not something I wanted to discourage, but I think it’s more the type of establishments springing up rather than the volume. We want interesting, imaginative, unusual bars… something different, not just another lazy frontage for a gangster somewhere. The shop – bar ratio should be a concern though…. you wouldn’t stroll through concert square for a bit of bohemian shopping would you…?

  3. Certainly it would be more interesting to research an article rather dash off a quick bloggy think-piece – that’s why we’re keen to get other people involved.

    As for the inclusion of the restaurants, it’s blunt but it illustrates how many places there are down LL that serve booze. I think that’s an issue because you can now see large parties turning up en masse to spend the night on Lark Lane, and in several of those restaurants you can have a few drinks at the bar without eating, which blurs the line in itself.

    There used to be a butcher’s on Lark Lane, as well as the greengrocer’s. The market in operation counter is often a valid one, but the reason we regulate – on the same basis that the council apparently intended to – is to protect vulnerable areas; the same reason LL isn’t packed with Starbucks and Maccies.

    By all means put empty buildings to good use, but not to the detriment of an area – the same thing that kiboshed Tesco’s plans to open another store on Hope Street.

    We may be misjudging the new bar, but I’m not sure it even matters what it’s like. Invite taxis-full of binge drinkers to an area and the results are sadly familiar across several parts of Liverpool – ask the police.

  4. Point taken about rezzers. And reggers. I suppose if people aren’t going to stop drinking themselves silly anytime soon then at least a lid can be kept on it by not flooding an area.

    And I’ve walked down there many times feeling vaguely threatened, so I know what you mean.

    I’ll put my money where my big mouth is and dash off an email to the councillors for that area, see what they say — I think it is, you’re probably familiar with it, lets you do a postcode search and find their contact details.

    I’ll ask the butcher up here next time I’m in there too, be interesting to get some vox pops.

    Interesting you chose the Albert’s sign as a pic — the atmosphere in there… !

  5. No insinuation is intended! It was the best image I could find under Creative Commons on Flickr!

    I was once accused of people an undercover police officer wearing a wire in the toilets of the Albert.

  6. I was there on a lovely sunny Sunday just this weekend for the first time in about 5 years… and it felt like it hadn’t changed much for a decade,.. does anyone remember the kind-of-OK -but-only-just butchers opposite the what was Masonic? Yeah, I went to the Tescos at Allerton for meat too. 13 years later the problems seem the same, has Lark Lane always been in decline? ( I forgot to look but is the hareware shop still there? – it was truely great) The idea of a fine old street with meat, fish, bread, veg and then a coffee shop / cafe and a couple of friendly pubs is fine and maybe people will make these kind of places happen again .. but only if supermarkets, like McDonalds (a little), go out of fasion. Crap local streets with nothing but bars? – it is the attack of supermarkets, taking so many customers away that it is better business, the only business left, to sell booze. It seems everyone knows it, doesn’t really like it, and has not yet done anything much about it .. hunt for NEF online (New Economics Foundation) – “economics as if people and the planet mattered”

  7. ^ I’ve read an argument that getting your lamb chops from the supermarket who sources ’em in New Zealand is better for the environment, thanks to great fuel economy provided by container shipping. Although intensive meat farming is obviously a bugger for the planet.

    Trick with a local butcher / greengrocer is that they’re great from a protectionism point-of-view – supporting local and national farmers etc – but a right bugger because it’s moved about in very small quantities by van. Another argument for electric vehicles mebbe. Or the aud hoss ‘n’ cart…

    Perhaps we need a city farm on Liverpool Innovation Park!

  8. As a local resident who opposed the application on the basis of the sheer number of licensed premises and the highly visible knock on effect to anti-social behaviour, litter, vagrancy etc, I was appalled to see that this application was passed.

    I returned home from work last night to find a tramp swigging special brew on my doorstep, and then battled to get to sleep against the racket coming from the back of Rhubard/The Parkfield. Just one example of the decline I have seen in the area over the last couple of years.

    I thought the area in and around Lark Lane was residential area, with an aspiration to be a residential destination of choice within the city? If this trend continues the area will start losing its residents, and those empty shops will turn into empty and/or run down houses and flats once more.

  9. Lark Lane’s a great area, close as it is to the park, and with some lovely housing. It has though, always been a bit of a magnet for crazies and an afternoon or evening spent there can never be considered predictable. In a bad way mostly.

    The increase in bars will hardly help that. I’m just glad I don’t live in the immediate vicinity.

  10. I was bron and bred in the Lark Lane area, and remember fondly walking up there omn errands for my mum, and again walking up there to go to the park, it was the main thoroughfare for all pedestrians in the vacinity. TheLLCC; youth club and summer scheme held at the Old Police Station, where we also did our majorette practice … It was the centre of our community.

    I recall the chandlers selling paraffin for the heaters and good old fashioned mop heads !! As time moved on Morantoes, and Keiths Wine bars began the ‘new’era of Lark Lane, and even the then considered ‘old mans pub’ tye Albert became trendy place to hang out.

    It has continually been developed and all but lost its community feel ….which seems such a shame to someone like me who has grown up on the Lane .

  11. Sorry guys, but businesses only survive if people want them. As long as your first port of call for food, books, clothing, toys or anything else is a big name supermarket; you only have yourself to blame if small shops vanish. At least most of the bars and shops on Lark Lane are not chains apart from ‘The Local’, ‘Chilli Banana’ and the Masonic upgrade (Heineken). It is simply a fact of life that the small retail outlets are going to go, What is needed is enhanced security at night . Working in the lane myself, we don’t actually have many problems in the daytime or weekends.

  12. Maybe the shopkeepers could adjust their working day to coincide with the peeps visiting Lark Lane in the evening, this way, it may bring back some of the unique and more of a European feel, and stop the decline of interesting shops along the lane. Having said that, I do like browsing/buying from the shops in the afternoon whenever I’m off work.

  13. Bill Major

    Mr & mrs Liue’s Fish shop and grocers, the deli shop and tattoo shop, the two antique shops plus the re-opened book shop retain the Lark lane Atmosphere plus a few others,but the row of bars in the Glasgow “style” [ie. No style at all] bring it down for me -I cross over the road rather than walk through a cloud of smokers on the pavement (makes me think it would be better to allow smoking in some pubs, particularly those that open straight onto a narrow pavement?]
    Is it supply & demand? Or is it “if you build the bar they will come” and keep on coming?

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