Bold street bust

Pedestrianisation plans for Liverpool scrapped

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Plans to pedestrianise Liverpool’s Bold Street have been delayed following concerns over the initial proposals.

The scheme – announced 12 months ago amid much media fanfare – depicted the street as a tree-lined, car-free oasis populated by smiling shoppers and al fresco dining. However, the blueprint raised fears among Bold Street’s 100-plus traders and as a result council plans for the single lane thoroughfare have returned to the drawing board.

Many traders along the city centre street – famed for its fiercely independent ethos – were taken by surprise by the original plans.

Lack of consultation

Mandy Vere, who has worked at News From Nowhere – the radical co-operative bookshop – since it opened on Bold Street in 1989, said: “When the plans were first announced there had been very little, if any, consultation with people like us and that threw up a lot of concerns. In fact, I got the feeling the plans were presented as a fait accompli, which obviously isn’t a consultation at all.”

Vere is though on the whole positive about the scheme but with reservations. She talked of eliminating the narrow pavements and unnecessary street furniture, and the difficulties people pushing prams or with health issues currently have navigating the length of the street, especially at peak times such as weekends.

“It really would be great if this was done well, with so much more open space, planters, greenery and places to sit, as it’s currently such a squeeze,” she said. “But for all traders, including us, the ability to take deliveries of stock is extremely important. Everyone knows high streets are dying all over the country but with careful planning this scheme could really work well.”

The area around Bold Street is notoriously short of parking space. For a business such as Shared Earth – which specialises in eco-friendly gifts, jewellery and furnishings – losing even more to pedestrianisation would prove problematic.

Jennifer Harland, who has been director of the company since it opened its current premises, almost opposite News From Nowhere, 13 years ago, agrees with Vere that the 2018 plans were both ill-conceived and came out of the blue.

She said: “We were not asked for input beforehand and everything seemed to be centred on the popularity of the growing bars and restaurants on the road, which left nothing satisfactory for the retail premises which have been here many years longer.”

Access problems

Harland said people with limited mobility will have problems if the street is pedestrianised and that taking away the current on-street parking may result in a drop-off of “our older, loyal customers”.

The initial proposals also designated a 6am-10am slot for shop deliveries, yet many retailers such as Shared Earth do not open for business until 9am or later and cannot afford to employ staff specifically to receive early deliveries.

A Liverpool City Council spokesman said that although the majority of feedback to the 2018 proposals was positive, businesses were “particularly worried about the potential impact on operational logistics such as loading and deliveries”.

The council has vowed to work more closely with traders, “which should result in a more suitable design for all stakeholders”, said the spokesperson. The council is in the process of securing funding for whatever plans are finalised.

“Retail is already having such a difficult time and we’ve already lost many of our unique shops,” Harland said. “Bold Street is home to some of the coolest independent shops in Liverpool and I would hate to see that jeopardised because we weren’t considered enough during the planning.”

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