Work has now started on site to clear and make good the land adjacent to the Strand and the Leeds Liverpool Canal.
The work, which is funded with £1.65m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, is the first part of Sefton Council’s plans to invest in the improvement of the Bootle New Strand shopping centre and Bootle Town Centre.
This demolition will open up a disused area around the Strand for new and imaginative interim uses, which will signal the first step in repurposing Bootle Strand and opening it up its canal frontage, which the Council sees as a cornerstone of Bootle town centre’s regeneration and transformation.
Sefton Council and its partners are looking for some short-term improvements that can help the Strand, and Bootle, get ahead of the competition in recovery following the severe impacts of COVID-19.
Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “While we are working on what the long-term plans are for Bootle and the Strand, we’re looking at bringing in interim uses to the areas in and around the Strand. By bringing new and vibrant activity to places that are currently unused the Council can help to stimulate the local economy, transform the look and feel of the town for residents, businesses and visitors and improve the quality of life for local people.
“Work has begun on demolishing some of the existing buildings so we can make the land ready for these interim uses, and we’ve already started engaging with local people and other stakeholders, including local businesses, on how the space could be used, including the Bootle Festival of Ideas.
“The Council plans to do lots more consultation and engagement work over the coming months and years (especially as we start to look ahead to the medium and long term plans) with a wide range of stakeholders from regular users of The Strand, existing tenants, local residents, the wider community and other interest groups within the town centre – all of whom have a role to play and an interest in the future of Bootle town centre.”
Among the ideas that have been suggested for consideration are food and beverage venues, ‘pop-up’ markets, artists’ studios and craft workshops and screenings and performance spaces are among these interim proposals. Education and training facilities and a community hub, exercise and sports spaces, that could include a cycle hub and possible gardens or even an urban beach have also been put forward for discussion. The first of these, it is hoped, will be in place for Summer 2021.
A partnering arrangement with the Canals and Rivers Trust would also integrate the site with the canal to enable it to be brought fully back into use and provide a possible ‘waterway link’ to Bramley Moore Dock in advance of the proposed new Everton FC stadium.
Cllr Maher continued: “These plans will transform the space in the short term while we continue to develop our ambitious, long-term plans for Bootle, which include attracting new private sector investment to create a town centre that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.”
“Research has shown that Bootle is proving to be one of the towns in the UK hardest-hit by COVID-19, so positive news such as this about our plans for the Strand and Bootle Town Centre is welcome. With its excellent communication links to Liverpool and the emerging EFC Stadium and North Liverpool development, the time is right to look at a more sustainable future for Bootle Strand so it can contribute positively to support the regeneration and transformation aims for the town.”
The Combined Authority funding for the project comes from the Local Growth Fund, which is awarded to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and invested through the Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund.
Speaking about the project, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Since I was elected, I have made it a priority to get our town centres on the up again and I know it is even more important to our communities in the light of the impact Coronavirus has had on them.
“We invested £1m in Bootle last December and are continuing to invest and work with Sefton Council to help see the area revitalised. This work should help kickstart that, by freeing up space for vibrant and innovative new projects.
“Town Centres are at the heart of our communities, providing a hub for people to meet, shop and socialise but sadly too many have seen better days. The Council has some really exciting plans that should help make Bootle Town Centre thrive.”
Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall MP, said: “Transforming unused spaces so that they can better benefit their communities is a key part of our work to level up towns across the country.
“I’m proud that we’re supporting the redevelopment of Bootle New Strand Shopping Centre with a £1.65 million Local Growth Fund investment.
“Exciting plans are in the pipeline for the unused area around the Strand, which will help support the local economy, brining opportunities and jobs to the community.”