City cancels Lime Street contract and warns of further delays

Last week the main contractor on the £9m Lime Street transformation scheme collapsed and now Liverpool Council has terminated the contract and says months of delays are likely. Tony McDonough reports

Lime Street
Roadworks in Lime Street outside St George’s Hall. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

Completion of the £9m transformation of Lime Street in Liverpool will now be delayed for months after the city council terminated the contract for the scheme.

Part of the £47m, Liverpool City Centre Connectivity (LCCC) programme, the main phase of the Lime Street revamp was close to completion last week when the main contractor, NMCN, collapsed into administration.

The authority has been waiting to see if a possible rescue deal for the business could see work resume on the project quickly. However, this is no longer a realistic possibility and the council’s highways department has already begun the task of making the site safe.

It will now seek to ensure Lime Street will be accessible as possible in the run up to the busy Christmas period for the city centre. However, there is likely to be continuing disruption to traffic flow with the scheme, due to be finished in December, now not expected to be ready until spring 2022.

This will be bad news for traders in the city centre who have already seen trade hit by ongoing works. Last week, St Johns Shopping Centre, with its 100 retailers, said it had seen a 30% reduction in footfall, which it blamed on the work being carried out on Lime Street.

On Monday, LBN reported that a review of the scheme ordered by Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson was unlikely to lead to any significant physical changes to the project. This is despite calls from some councillors who are unhappy at the impact it will have on bus routes across the city centre.

The street, home to St George’s Hall and the Empire Theatre, will be reduced to a single carriageway in each direction. There will be improved access for pedestrians, cyclists and bus passengers.

It will also see changes to the way bus services work in the city centre, with all but a limited number of routes having to terminate at either Queens Square or Liverpool ONE bus station. The city’s new Bus Hub would then become fully operational.

And it is these changes to the movements of buses around the city that have caused concern among the councillors. They are unhappy that the scheme will mean south to north city bus routes would be cut off.

In April, Greenbank Labour councillor Laura Robertson Collins resigned as Cabinet Member for the Environment in protest at the project. Last week she presented a motion to the council urging a review.

It read: “This committee asks that the cabinet member urgently review the plans for Lime Street and utilises this appalling mess as an opportunity to create a transport system fit for a city that has declared a climate emergency, and is being mandated to urgently clean up our air.”

Mayor Anderson agreed to the review and has instructed officers to carry out modelling to see if councillors’ wishes on the movement of buses around the city centre can be accommodated. However, given how close the job was to completion, any significant changes would be costly.

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