This week councillors in Liverpool are set to approve changes to the £10.5m revamp of Lime Street but St Johns Shopping Centre is unhappy with the proposals. Tony McDonough reports
St Johns Shopping Centre is unhappy with changes to the design of the £10.5m transformation of Lime Street in Liverpool.
This week Liverpool councillors will meet to consider new proposals for the completion of the Lime Street project, part of the wider £47m Liverpool City Centre Connectivity programme.
Work ground to a halt in October 2021 when the main contractor, NMCN, collapsed into administration.The council took the opportunity to revisit some of the design, particularly in relation to bus routes. Councillors had expressed concern that bus links between the north and south of the city centre would be cut off.
Last week the council published details of a compromise that would see a limited number of bus services link the Liverpool ONE and Queen Queen Square bus stations. If approved this week work is expected to be completed by the summer.
In the autumn Neil Ashcroft, centre manager at St Johns shopping centre, said the ongoing work had had an impact on footfall on its 100-plus retailers which include JD Sports, Matalan, HMV, F. Hinds and the official LFC Store.
Now Mr Ashcroft is not only concerned about the impact of the ongoing work but also that the redesign may may it more difficult for St Johns customers to access the centre at a time when it is still trying to recover from the pandemic.
Under the amended plans St Johns’ car park will be accessible via Elliot Street and Skelhorne Street, but with no route available from Lime Street, as had previously been the case. This is significant change to the original design which has been planned and approved.
St Johns says its has previously consulted at length with Liverpool City Council throughout the planning and development of the Connectivity Scheme and is “disappointed and surprised” that changes are being proposed at this late stage.
Its priority is to understand the technical assessments that have been undertaken on the revised proposal that demonstrate that congestion and air quality issues are not being created at other locations and major junctions elsewhere in the city.
Mr Ashcroft said: “Our concern is not just for the centre itself, but for the many businesses, theatres, museums and cultural venues in the surrounding areas that rely on the easy accessibility of parking in this part of the city centre.
“These new plans may well translate to increased journey times for those travelling by car, which will, in turn, have a negative impact on emissions. To understand how the revised scheme will work for shoppers, workers residents and visitors, we need the highway modelling data to be made public.
“The Connectivity Scheme has always been about creating an improved experience when travelling around the city and we are keen to have assurances that this is still being achieved under the new plans.”
Last week Liverpool BID Company, which represents more than 1,000 businesses in the city centre including St Johns, called for “vastly improved” communications over the ongoing Lime Street road works.
BID chief executive Bill Addy said: “While disruption continues, business is paying a price. There is confusion for people trying to get in and out of the city centre. The pathways are not accessible. The main gateway to the city is a building site and that impacts on confidence.”
Liverpool City Council has acknowledged its connectivity scheme will not be able to please everyone all of the time. The latest changes to Lime Street, its believes, offer a reasonable compromise and it is eager to get on and complete the job to improve what is a major gateway to the city.
Last week, Cllr Dan Barrington, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: “The Lime Street scheme has generated quite a few problems, not least the collapse of the original contractor and we apologise for the delays and disruption this has caused.”