Sefton Council has submitted a bid to the Government to kickstart Bootle Canalside’s regeneration.
The bid focuses on the night-time economy and includes plans for what Sefton describes as “the North of England’s first ‘Flying Theatre’”. Blackpool Council’s £300m Blackpool Central also proposes a flying theatre – a high-tech digital and virtual reality stage – within the theme park at the planned leisure development.
Sefton has submitted a bid based on a two-stage plan to establish the Bootle Canalside site as a destination for residents and visitors alike.
The first phase would see the completion of Bootle Canalside – a multi-functional event, entertainment, food and drink space – on a once-derelict site alongside the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.
Stage two would see the construction and launch of the digital and virtual reality venue hosting a visitor attraction and providing places for technology-enhanced “competitive socialising”, according to the council.
This Flying Theatre would use a robotic hydraulic platform to create the feeling of flight and will enable visitors to take an airborne tour showcasing the geographic and cultural beauty and diversity of the British Isles.
A VR time-travel tunnel would take visitors on a journey through the History of Bootle and Liverpool, including an experience of the Blitz with audio and visuals adding to the immersive educational experience.
Sefton also plans to maximise the potential of proximity to Everton FC’s stadium development at Bramley-Moore Dock. Working with the Canal & Rivers Trust, there are plans to improve towpaths and navigability of the canal down to the dock area and explore canal-taxi services.
Sefton acquired the Strand shopping centre in 2017 and has since acquired further sites to put the Canalside project together, starting some demolition works last year.
The leader of Sefton Council, Cllr Ian Maher, said: “Our Levelling Up Fund bid contains innovative opportunities to bring jobs, investment and recovery to parts of our borough that have been hit hard by the pandemic.
“Community remains at the heart of our plans for regeneration and we want to attract people to our town centres as well as improving them for the people who live there.
“The projects that will be submitted as part of our bid for funding are varied, ambitious and will shine a light on what Bootle and Crosby have to offer, bringing much-needed footfall and focus to our town centres.”
Sefton is eligible to submit up to three bids to the £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund, which has been established to invest in projects focused on town centre and high street regeneration, local transport, cultural and heritage schemes. A second bid based on Crosby was also submitted.