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Exciting future ahead for Bootle’s landmark shopping centre

Sefton Council’s vision for the long-term future of Bootle New Strand Shopping centre continues to progress with the acquisition of adjacent sites and progression of soft market testing regarding options and opportunities for the future of the centre.

This is the first step in realising the Council’s long-term aspirations to redevelop and repurpose The Strand.

In 2017, Sefton Council bought The Strand and earlier this year it secured some of the neighbouring sites. This means the Council can now steer the regeneration of a wider area of The Strand and Bootle town centre.

With Bootle proving to be one of the towns in the UK hardest-hit by COVID-19, the council is reviewing a range of short-term, cost effective “meanwhile” uses for the site while the long-term plans are being considered.

Following the adjacent site acquisitions, demolition works will commence this year, as part of work towards making better use of the canal-side location.  There will be an emphasis on a distinct food and beverage offer next to the canal, and images have been released to show how the area could look like in the future. These interim, “meanwhile” uses will transform the area in the short term while longer term planning and public consultation and engagement with residents, businesses and customers takes place.

Introducing these “meanwhile” measures will mean decommissioning certain areas of the centre. This may contribute to a reduction in rental income, but the Council will work through the financial impact, alongside these exciting new developments.

Pleasingly, in the most recent financial year (2019/20), The Strand made an operating surplus despite the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all sectors of society, including retail.  This surplus has been added to previous balances generated and has made possible the investment of £1 million to help fund other Sefton Council services since the Centre came back into council ownership.

This proves that the decision to take the centre back into council control and away from the private sector was the right one for the regeneration of Bootle and the Borough.  If this hadn’t taken place, The Strand would be unsupported and would be in decline with a wide-ranging impact on the local community and wider borough.

There is no retail unit or shopping centre in the UK that has not been affected by the pandemic, as the economy has seen a significant decline leading to the country now being in recession, and The Strand, together with all shopping centres in the Borough, will be no different in experiencing financial challenges over the coming months and years.  Now more than ever, exciting plans such as these to transform a much loved and valued local asset have never been more important.

As part of the long-term vision for The Strand and Bootle Town Centre, Sefton Council plans to carry out widespread consultation with local residents and partners, including a “Festival of Ideas” in September 2020. The input and perspectives of the public will be key to the success of the centre in the future.

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “Sefton Council has big ambitions for the future of The Strand and Bootle Town Centre. They remain central to the area’s regeneration and this is an opportunity to explore other uses for them.

“We want to transform the space so that it is be more open and integrated with the surrounding community. It will be a beautiful public space hosting a wide range of uses and facilities, including retail but also food and drink and leisure opportunities.  We will also evaluate a number of other potential uses to ensure long-term economic, social and environmental sustainability of the centre.

“In particular, we have an ambition to link The Strand to the canal, which can provide not only an attractive environment and space for leisure, but also ‘a green transport corridor’, for walking, cycling and travel by water. This would link The Strand with other parts of the borough and beyond, including the proposed new Everton football stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.”

The illustrations released today are artist’s impressions of how the area could look.