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Demolition marks start of work to redevelop Bootle New Strand shopping centre

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.

Demolition works begin near Bootle New Strand shopping centre as diggers can be seen taking down parts of a building

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.”

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.

A popular historic building in Crosby is set to be brought back into community use.

Sefton Council recognises the importance of the Grade II listed Carnegie Library building and late last year advertised it to try and identify the right opportunity that benefits the community and local residents.

The competitive process looking at bids for the future of this important asset has been completed and options around next steps are now being considered.

A report highlighting the potential use of the College Road building as a sustainable business hub with an emphasis on social value has been approved by Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services.

Cunard Construction Limited will facilitate the repair and refurbishment of the Library in line with its status as a Grade II listed building.

 Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services, said:

“Carnegie Library is a valued asset for both the Council and the local community and its heritage status is widely recognised.

“The successful business plan submitted for the premises reports on the development and operation of a create a flexible business hub for start-up and smaller businesses, a community café in the centre of the building within the heart of Crosby.

“This is exciting news for Crosby and the wider borough as we bring a much-loved building back into use serving our valued communities. Further details will be released in due course.”

James Flannery, Construction Director at Cunard Construction, said;

“We are delighted to be chosen as the preferred bidder for the iconic and much-loved Carnegie Library in Crosby. We as a business have a track record of refurbishing historic buildings across the Liverpool City Region and the North West.

“We aim to work in partnership with Sefton Council, and the immediate community in Crosby, to create a stimulating business hub, focusing on start-up and smaller businesses who want to work more locally to where they live rather than the more costly city centre office environments. We also have plans to work with other partners, including the Combined Authority, on this and other exciting schemes in the future.

“We as a business will be operating from the new space as we want to demonstrate the transition from start-up, to a more established business operations and the building will be designed to allow this growth.

“We feel the integration of a central bistro / café to compliment the flexible office working environment will enhance a new way of working post Covid-19. Furthermore, we will aim to extending the welcome to this unique building to the local community with internal and external seating space”.

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