Sefton Council has reaffirmed its commitment to the Strand shopping centre, a cornerstone of the local community, which remains at the heart of plans to regenerate the hard hit town.
Working in partnership with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which has invested £500,000 from its Mayoral Towns Fund and £1.8m strategic investment funding into the Bootle Canalside project, leading real estate company Avison Young and place shaping consultants K2 Architects, the Council has developed a bold vision for the future of Bootle with additional green public spaces, and an exciting and more diverse offer from the Strand and the adjoining Canalside.
This would include diversification of the centre to include new food and drink offers; leisure and entertainment; culture and education; as well as new integrated health and social care facilities. Bringing all of this together in one place would improve access for the whole community and make the town more resilient and confident as well futureproofing the Strand for a rapidly changing high street.
The investment in the Strand would support the development of a thriving night-time economy in the town centre and help to promote Bootle as an ideal place for businesses to locate, creating jobs and renewed confidence in the town.
The strategy is to retain the best of the existing Strand shopping centre and unlock its original potential by opening elements of the centre to create more public spaces and to work with the original buildings and structures, rather than large scale demolition and redevelopment. This will have a fraction of the environmental impact.
This vision of a diverse and resilient town centre, repurposed for the community, is a bold and ambitious one, but one that local leaders are confident can be delivered alongside partners including Hugh Baird College, local health providers, the Canals and Rivers Trust, local businesses and the community and voluntary sector.
The Council intends to submit a new bid to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) this summer for support with its plans for the Strand and Bootle town centre. The town is one of the areas hardest hit in recent times and has not yet had support from the Government for regeneration and development. The Council’s vision for a thriving town centre that works for all people is the archetypal Levelling Up project, focused on community, resilience and sustainability and should be supported in the next round of funding.
Sefton Council will be launching a market testing exercise in Spring/Summer 2022, after which more detailed proposals will be developed, in consultation with local people, and progressed through the planning process.
The Council has already started engaging with the local community as part of the wider Bootle Area Action Plan process with further opportunities to contribute to that planned for later this year.
The Council intends to work collaboratively with local leaders and the community on the Strand programme and will commence dedicated engagement soon.
Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council said: “We are proudly and passionately committed to the regeneration of Bootle which has been hit hard by the pandemic and has too often been overlooked.
“The Strand shopping centre is the beating heart of Bootle and the loyalty of the community to this cornerstone of the high street is immense.
“Our plans to offer a diverse range of services within the Strand and transform the surrounding areas would not be possible without Council ownership of the shopping centre and the loyalty of the people who go there.
“Our vision for Bootle aims to create a thriving town centre that works for all people, brings investment and interest to an area filled with opportunities and builds a happier, healthier, more resilient population.”
Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said: “This ambitious vision for the future of the Strand is proper levelling-up in action – and will make a real difference to people’s lives.
“The Strand has served as Bootle’s retail hub for decades – but it has seen better days. However, it is an area with so much more potential to unlock. The Combined Authority is working with Sefton Council to help make sure that Bootle’s future is as vibrant and exciting as possible.
“Reimagining what the town centre is for and expanding its offering will be the first step towards achieving this. The work we are doing will act as a catalyst for further regeneration and good growth – that strengthens the local economy, attracts more investment into the town, and improves the health, wellbeing and life chances of local residents.”