Cavern Quarter masterplan set for public review

A draft spatial regeneration framework for the area around Mathew Street and Williamson Square in Liverpool is set to go before the city council’s cabinet next Friday.

The draft SRF is part of the council’s plans to attract investment and guide the use of existing buildings, creating a “quality experiential visit” for tourists interested in Liverpool’s musical history.

If approved the Cavern Quarter/Williamson Square framework will go out to a five-week consultation.

The team delivering the SRF was chosen last October, made up of Planit-IE, planner Arup, Fourth Street Consulting on destination development and economics, Avison Young advising on property, Dave Pichilingi, founder of Sound City, on music history and event planning, and Rob Burns advising on heritage.

The draft SRF makes a number of recommendations across the Cavern Quarter, Whitechapel and Williamson Square.

In the Cavern Quarter, the focus will be on the daytime, and “resist proposals for further bars or nightclubs”.

Upper floors of buildings could be repurposed for music-related businesses, and the general street scene of the area improved, to “upgrade gateways”, use spaces for events and public art, improve street furniture and building facades, and animate blank walls and surfaces as part of a wider art and digital strategy.

In Whitechapel, the approach to Williamson Square and the Cavern Quarter would be updated with a mix of public art, trees, lighting, and improved wayfinding. There are also plans for a strategy to “celebrate and interpret the street as the original ‘pool of Liverpool'”.

On Williamson Square, the framework would see a redesign of the square to include flexible performance space, and improved public realm including seating and planting.

Some potential plots for development have also been identified. The framework mentions the possible redevelopment of the St Johns extension building, and use of the Dawson Street taxi rank siteif the taxis are relocated.

At the Playhouse, there are plans to expand its presence with spill out areas, and a programme of events.

The draft SRF states funding could come from a variety of sources, such as section 106, City Region grants and the European-funded Urban GreenUP programme.

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The Pool of Liverpool plan could capture people’s imagination! The Pool Stream ran from the St. George’s Quarter to the the site of the Old Dock at the foot of Liverpool One’s steps. If you can’t bring back the stream mark its line with lights and colours set in the ground, a third of a mile!
Make sure Victoria Street is brought into this too, you will have a new square outside the Fruit Exchange. And the taxi area could become another square, linking through to St. George’s. Animate the whole place: light, sounds, colour, music!

By Liverpolitan

The “original pool of Liverpool”?? What does that even mean?!

As for Williamson Square, why don’t they invite the fair to come and live for months on end, in the same way they wrecked the Pier Head for everyone (apparently the fair can’t visit there this year, because it needs repairs… Who knew!) They could integrate St John’s market, which has to be about the right size and level of emptiness now for a mini go-kart track or big bumper cars rink.

No, you could say I’m not overly hopeful, or trusting, of whatever this actually ends up as.

By Mike

You’re right to be sceptical Mike; and the ‘City of Music’ needs to develop a much greater quality and depth; and creating the right infrastructure around the city needs to be part of that. The Pool of Liverpool did indeed once flow all the way to the back of the St. George’s Hall area, then the Great Heath. It followed the line of Paradise Street and Whitechapel, previously Frog Lane! In fact it is believed that the old hamlet of Liverpool, prior to 1207 when king John founded the new town of Liverpool, was clustered around the St. George’s area where boats would have moored in the tidal stream.
We need to link St. George’s much better to the city’s old heart. Re-imagining ‘The Pool of Liverpool’ in lights and encouraging investment along its route could be the way to to go. The taxi rank square and lack of safe pedestrian routes in this area is certainly an issue.
There’s not much wrong with the public realm on Williamson Square, its the buildings/usages that’s the problem.

By Liverpolitan

There are just two niggling flaws in your vision, Liverpolitan: One is that it’s the council supposedly delivering this, and the second is that – thanks to how the city has been run by them for the past 10 years – the city now hasn’t a bean to pay for it anyway.

If there was any sense this was a real thing seen as a priority, surely it would have had money spent on it already, rather than the millions being spent now on paving over half the city?

The stuff they have done has hardly been stellar. How long has that ugly car park been built on Victoria Street? Despite their Manchester (lol) agent’s efforts, none of those shops are open. And why would they be?

IMO the best thing that can happen for Liverpool is for the council to be reduced to emptying bins, and anything important or placemaking to go up to city region level.

By Mike

The “original pool of Liverpool” refers to an inlet from the river that came in about half a mile, onto which the first dock was built (you can see the remnants under Liverpool One if you book a tour via the Maritime Museum), and extended up to roughly St George’s Hall.

Its an actual historical thing.

By Pool of Life

I wouldn’t argue with you about strengthening the city region level Mike. But we are where we are and people like you and me need to try and influence them where we can

By Liverpolitan

By the way Mike, Castle Street took at least two years to get going following the public realm, look at it now! There is a long lead in for change. Victoria Street has never joined up. They wouldn’t win any awards for what they’re doing, no, but it’s on the right lines, and others can add to it later. At least they say they’re planning new trees for this one, let’s hold them to that! The ‘Pool of Light’ could do with some trees. That’s my ‘half penneth’ anyway!

By Liverpolitan

There should be a statue of Ian McCulloch

By Tha'Knows

The Cavern Quarter must be the most disappointing part of Liverpool for visitors, so tacky atm

By Iain

I hope there is a new post box in the shape of Ringo saying, “No more mail!” and when you put your hand in someone tries to grab the rings off your fingers!
On a serious note…
Would like to see a reference regarding the junction on Mathew Street being the ‘Centre of the Universe’ and a big massive saying the Cavern is on the same side as the original.
A Madame Tussaudes of all the famous Liverpool artists would be terrific too – to go in with the theme of musical upper floor levels.

By Ringo's Ma

Williamson Square and Richmond Street are a disgrace! especially given their proximity to St George’s Hall and St John’s Gardens. Hopefully the new Hotel at the old George Henry Lee site might improve the area. But it really is sad to see.

By Lizzy Baggot

It’s Castle Street a success? I’m sure some people feel comfortable there, but there is little beyond drink and food. The wide pavements often look tatty, and are hardly decent places for sitting out.

The only difference anyone’s opinion seems to matter to that lot is when there appears to some kind of potential risk to one man’s ill-fitting job. Then we get all kinds of grandiose fantasies that are supposedly coming our way. Until the heat is off. It’s been over a decade. There is no influencing to be done, as evidenced by their continual theme of deciding what they want to do and doing it, with Joe Public last to know, let alone have any real say. The mega-paving project being a case in point, culminating in the laughable Liverpool Disconnectivity Scheme (with public transport being dictated by it, only to now start working out just how unworkable those plans are). But hey, at least that’s a shed load of paving that’s been bought and fitted.

The only thing that would convince me that things might change would be for the Lib Dems to win again. And even then I’d want to hear how on earth they’re going to turn things around now. I expect that’s what most in the real business community would want to see, before they started putting their money back in.

By Mike

They should bring back some of the old markets as a new modern incarnation. Rebuild the north side of Williamson Square backing onto the bus station and get a new lively market frontage in with much better architecture.

By Liverpolitan

I don’t think the pool is at all relevant to the story of this district. It’s about the old produce market and warehouse district, it’s proximity to the docks and how it Became the natural setting for a revolution in an American influenced music scene fuelled by being the first exposed to a certain kind of music in the uk. The pool was long gone by then.

By Winston

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