Following the collapse of the main contractor on the £9m Lime Street upgrade, Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson agreed to a review of the scheme – but major changes are unlikely. Tony McDonough reports
A review of the £9m Lime Street upgrade is unlikely to lead to any significant physical changes to the project, LBN has learned.
Last week the scheme’s main contractor, NMCN, collapsed following a failed £24m recapitalisation of the company. Administrator Grant Thornton is now working to rescue as much of the business as possible.
With work on the Lime Street project now paused, Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson said the council was taking the opportunity to review the works to see if any changes can be made. Some councillors are unhappy at the impact the current plan it will have on city centre bus routes.
Work on the Lime Street scheme, part of the city council’s £47m Liverpool City Centre Connectivity programme, began in October 2020. 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 or 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 some 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, and Cabinet Member for Transport Cllr Dan Barrington, have agreed to the review. The Mayor said: “Obviously there are complications and we need to look at the detail but it is an opportunity to rethink what we are doing and look at the feedback we are receiving.
“Everything that has happened in the last couple of days with that particular development gives us that opportunity to review it.”
However, LBN understands that the main highways phase of the project was already close to completion. It was due to be delivered in November but the widely-reported problems in the UK logistics sector hampered deliveries and completion was pushed back to December.
Officers will carry out modelling to see if councillors’ wishes on the movement of buses around the city centre can be accommodated. But with the physical works now almost complete any major changes would be unlikely. The new kerb lines are already installed and resurfacing was the last main job to complete.
On Friday, LBN reported that St Johns Shopping Centre had seen a 30% reduction in footfall, which it blamed on the work being carried out on Lime Street. It’s 100 retailers would not be happy if the scheme was delayed further still.
There could be changes to other parts of the Lime Street scheme, that are not in the highways phase. City centre councillor Nick Small would like to see the historic Steble Fountain repaired instead of the installation of a new water feature. That work isn’t due to take place until next year and so a rethink would be possible.