As part of its £400m Town Deal transformation project, Southport wants to bring back the Victorian magnificence that inspired a future emperor of France. Tony McDonough reports
While living in exile in Southport in 1838, Prince Louis Napoleon was inspired by the ‘grandeur’ of the town centre.
Now, almost two centuries later, plans have been unveiled to restore the Merseyside seaside town’s Victorian magnificence as part of the £400m Town Deal transformation project. Southport is asking the Government for £50m from its Town Deals fund which Sefton Council hopes will unlock a total of £400m of new investment.
As part of that plan, what has been dubbed Les Transformations de Southport is looking at interconnectivity across the whole town centre, from improved pedestrian and cycling routes in the town centre and waterfront, to the creation of new public spaces for hosting events.
A key proposal of the Southport Town Deal submission included a bid for funding to facilitate the early phases of this project, which could deliver around 300,000 sq ft of new, accessible, well-connected high-quality public spaces, providing priority for walking and cycling in support of clean growth.
The first phase would include a new civic events space on Lord Street, and public realm enhancements in areas adjacent to the key strategic projects identified within the Town Deal bid.
Cllr Marion Atkinson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, explained: “While living in exile in Southport in 1838, Prince Louis Napoleon, later Emperor Napoleon III, was so inspired by the grandeur of Lord Street that he ordered Baron Haussmann to model the reconstruction of Paris on it.
“Les Transformations de Paris made the French capital the ‘Southport of the South’. Les Transformations de Southport will ensure we again fulfil the potential of our public realm spaces, on Lord Street and beyond.
“When we carried out our extensive consultation on the Southport Town Deal bid, the connection between Lord Street and the Promenade, the need for maintenance of existing infrastructure to create safe spaces accessible for all emerged strongly as priorities.”
The illumination of Lord Street, lighting within the landscape of the iconic town centre
Boulevard, will be a key feature of the project, which aims to address connectivity and congestion issues between the seafront area, the town centre and the railway station, including elements of improved signage and wayfinding around the town.