Following news that Constellations entertainment venue will close, Baltic Triangle Area CIC chairperson Liam Kelly claims ‘our culture is for sale’. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool is following a “destructive” path that is sacrificing its cultural assets for the short-term gains of property developers.
Speaking following news of the closure of the Constellations entertainment venue, Baltic Triangle Area CIC chairperson Liam Kelly today offers a damning verdict on a city development strategy that he claims puts at risk any chance of a “long-term, sustainable vision”.
The directors of Constellations, Rebecca Wild and Nicholas Baskerville, say it will close next year with developer Legacie submitting plans to Liverpool City Council for a 505-flat scheme on the site in Greenland Street.
Ms Wild and Baskerville said they planned to open a similar venue to Constellations elsewhere in the Baltic Triangle. Ms Wild added: “We wanted to prove our idea could work. We’ve done that and made it a great success. Now we want to know where else we should go”
However, in a open letter Mr Kelly claimed that in Liverpool “our culture is still for sale”, lamenting the proposed closure of Constellations as well as the ‘Twirling Trees’ green space.
He says: “The government in Westminster expects our city to live on the money collected from business rates and council tax by 2020, so the need for development appears to be a beast that must be fed at any cost.
“But this destructive planning is a short-term gain at the expense of a long-term, sustainable vision.
“Mayor Joe Anderson recently said that culture is ‘Liverpool’s lifeblood’ and we get £12 back for every £1 spent. If so, it’s time to be more protective of the culture we have so we continue to realise that return.
“That means protecting the assets we have, creating an environment for more to be built and investing in the necessary infrastructure to support this, such as the re-opening of St. James Street Station, and supporting creative groups to purchase land and assets.”
He said it was the success of the Baltic Triangle area, that in less than a decade has been transformed from a “desolate red light district” into a thriving cultural district, that had made it a more attractive proposition to property developers.
The Baltic area, just outside the city centre, is now home to hundreds of creative and digital businesses and attracts more than 3m people a year.
“This should be a proud time to look back at what’s been achieved,” added Mr Kelly. “It’s now an internationally recognised example of what culture and creativity can do to change the spirit and face of a place.
“It should shift the conversation not to ‘how do we build over this?’ but to ‘how do we build on this?’.”