Liverpool City Region’s Combined Authority has approved a further £650,000 to support Sefton Council’s plans to redevelop the Strand mall and Bootle town centre.
The funding is in addition to £1m approved in December last year, which enabled Sefton to push on with securing full site ownership. The project made further progress with images released on news in August that demolition would start this year.
LCR’s £650,000 slug of funding will be used to clear and make good the land adjacent to the Strand and the adjacent Leeds & Liverpool Canal.
The body said that this work is the first stage of plans to reanimate the town centre by bringing interim uses to the currently unused areas in and around the Strand, which the Council sees as a cornerstone of Bootle town centre’s regeneration.
Engagement is now underway on how the space could be used, with food & drink, pop-up markets, artists studios and craft workshops all possibilities, along with education and training facilities. Screenings and performance spaces are among these interim proposals.
A partnering arrangement with the Canals & 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.
Sefton bought the shopping centre in 2017 for around £32m. The former Post Office site in Stanley Road has now been acquired – the Post Office now being based within the Strand – along with the Easirent van hire premises on Washington Road.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Since I was elected, I have highlighted the many and complex problems our town centres are facing with changing consumer habits.
“This is even more important 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.
“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. Sefton have some really exciting plans to breathe new life into the area and make Bootle town centre thrive.”
Rotheram’s comments take on a point made by Mark Robinson, chair of the High Streets Task Force, at Place North West’s recent Future of Retail + Leisure event, where he said that in relative terms centres such as Bootle and the key Greater Manchester towns had outperformed the big city centres through the post-lockdown summer period.