Road closures, pop-up parks, architecturally designed furniture, a business grant scheme and free trading permits are all part of a new pilot package of support for the hospitality sector in Liverpool.
Bold Street will be closed to traffic across the summer and be the pilot for a new scheme of street furniture and 'parklets'. Designed by Arup, these new seating and park areas will take over existing parking bays to transform the look of the street and, if successful, could be rolled out to other streets across the city.
Part of the ongoing ‘Liverpool Without Walls’ project to re-imagine the city under social distancing, a joint project between Liverpool City Council, Liverpool BID Company - which supports 1,500 city centre businesses, and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce has been announced this week.
The scheme is aimed at giving businesses in Liverpool the best chance of being ready to trade following the lifting of restrictions on hospitality businesses just announced by the government. Designed to provide support to help cafes and restaurants trade outside, a range of support is being deployed across the city.
All independent restaurants in the city can now apply for a grant of up to £4,000 for them to purchase furniture which will allow them to trade outside, with the level of grant depending on the number of additional seats each restaurant can create. The fee for a new street café licence - around £600 - is being waived for all new applications to ensure businesses don't have extra costs as they aim to get back on their feet.
The furniture installation on Bold Street will be taking place throughout early July with the rollout of additional seating expected throughout the summer. Consultation has taken place with some of the independent traders in the area about the designs and the changes. Care will also be taken to make sure the changes take account of accessibility and do not adversely impact on, for example, wheelchair users.
Garry Banks, Director of Arup, said: “The creative use of space on the streets of the city centre has never been more important. The development of a ‘kit of parts’ concept for parklets will provide high quality and adaptable spaces that will enhance local character and sense of place, whilst also enabling businesses to operate safely.”
Chief executive of Liverpool BID Company and chair of the Liverpool Visitor Economy Network (LVEN), Bill Addy, said: “With road closures, parking bay suspensions, social distancing guidelines and ensuring accessibility, this is a very complicated piece of work, but I think this is the start of revolution in how we use the city centre.