Exclusive: Liverpool Mayor blocks £5m zip wire plan

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has made a dramatic intervention into the zip wire row which has divided people, politicians and businesses in the city. Tony McDonough reports

St Johns Gardens
Zip wire thrill-seekers would fly over St Johns Gardens. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson is blocking a £5m plan for a zip wire from the top of St Johns Beacon and the city’s Central Library.

Earlier in the summer, Zip Work secured planning permission from Liverpool City Council for the 400 metre-long, 450 ft-high attraction and, when it opens next year, it will create 30 new jobs.

The project has divided opinion in Liverpool with businesses and residents both for an against the idea. Objectors say the it is not appropriate for the wire to carry thrill-seekers above St John’s Gardens at the back of St George’s Hall.

And the Victorian Society has Victorian Society has applied to the High Court for leave for a judicial review into Liverpool City Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the proposal, and also not to require listed building consent for it.

However, in a dramatic intervention, LBN understands Mayor Joe Anderson has told Zip World that it can no longer use the roof of the Central Library as a landing point for the zip wire’s thrill-seekers.

In a statement, the Mayor said: “The planning committee is an independent group of councillors who have a quasi judicial role looking at the lawful application made by this company to operate a zip wire in this vicinity.

“The Committee agreed the planning officer’s recommendation and acted fairly and democratically in granting this application, despite what objectors say. As Mayor I do not interfere in the planning process. However, I do have the final decision on whether a building owned by the council should be used in such a way.

 

World Museum
Mayor Joe Anderson will block the plan to use Central Library as a landing point. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

“I have serious concerns about using this area, and having spoken to the company could not let them progress further, knowing I would not support it. I have today informed them that I will not give permission for any council-owned building in this area to be used for the zip wire. They have accepted my position and we have mutually agreed to work together to identify an alternative option.

“I would like to thank Zip World for their co-operation and look forward to them working with us. Liverpool will always try and support imaginative ideas, especially those that can help us support businesses in difficult economic times.”

Sean Taylor, founder and president of Zip World, has admitted the decision is a “setback” but has vowed to come forward with a revised plan to ensure the zip wire attraction does become a reality.

He said: “All of us at Zip World respect the Mayor’s decision and we remain committed to working with him and Liverpool City Council to find a new landing point and resubmit a new plan for consideration.

“We have had tremendous support from the business community and key stakeholders who recognised the huge economic contribution Zip World Liverpool can bring to this great city.  We thank them for their support.

“We will now press ahead with our plans for other suitable activities in Liverpool which was going to be part of our next phase. I am sure there is a big future for Zip World in Liverpool and we will announce details of a revised plan at the soonest possible opportunity.”

Last month Zip World, which runs a similar attraction in North Wales, attempted to appease those against the scheme by changing the location of the ‘kit-up’ centre from the library to St Johns Shopping Centre instead of the library.

Frank McKenna, chef executive of business lobby group Downtown in Business, as well as Liverpool BID Company chief executive Bill Addy, have both backed the zip wire saying it will provide a boost to the city’s visitor economy which has been badly hit by COVID-19.

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