Consultation launched for £40m Wolstenholme Square scheme

Elliot Lawless's company Elliot Group has announced plans for a redevelopment of Liverpool's Wolstenholme Square, with a mix of residential, commercial, leisure and retail uses contained within five blocks.

The proposals are to be unveiled to the community later in April, and are expected to include 370 apartments, alongside a new venue for club Cream and a performance space managed by collaborators from The Kazimier, which would relocate to another site.

The project, designed by Liverpool architect Falconer Chester Hall, will see the creation of new buildings ranging up to 10 storeys and a passageway through from Wolstenholme Square to Seel Street to improve the area's permeability.

The proposals, which include ground floor commercial space for cafes, restaurants and shops, club space and serviced and residential apartments, represent an investment of more than £40m should planning permission be granted.

The public is now being asked to comment on the plans before a planning application is submitted. An exhibition at Cream's home, Nation, is being held on Tuesday 28 April from 2pm to 8pm at which the public can see outline plans and register their views.

Lawless said: "We're not there yet as it's vital that the square's stakeholders get a chance to tell us what they think, but what's currently on the table is exciting and imaginative. We'll be bringing hundreds of construction jobs, providing new space for budding entrepreneurs and giving a real lift to what is a forgotten quarter of Ropewalks.

"The two clubs are emblematic brands for Liverpool and we're keen to support them. We've had some very positive discussions with both operators and although in its very early stages, the project presents them with a huge opportunity to do something exciting."

Wolstenholme Square was laid out in the mid-18th Century to provide homes for the city's merchant classes and, as with much of Ropewalks, evolved over time into a mixed commercial and industrial neighbourhood serving the docks. The square suffered during the Blitz, with architectural gems such as the Dutch-style Valspar paint factory lost to German air raids, to be replaced by the low-rise warehousing.

The plans represent the latest investment for Elliot Group after it secured planning permission for the refurbishment of the nearby Heap's Rice Mill under the One Park Lane brand. Work is expected to start on the £130m scheme later in the year.

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Looks like a good starter for 10 for Wolstenholme Square but the buildings are probably a bit too high for the scale of the square and the remaining historic merchants houses which are some of the oldest in the city. Great that there’ll be a route through to Seel Street improving the permeability which is badly needed. I suspect the artists impression is a bit deceptive as it shows a separate car parking area as if it were part of the lanscaping/open space when in fact the area of the open square is only the top left corner. This development needs to be integrated with proposals for the other side of the square adjacent to the listed buildings and the two should be assessed together. The permeability needs to be addressed on this side of the square too, especially when Tunnage Square is built over as planned. The Council needs to take a pro-active approach to ensure that the square is redeveloped or planned as a whole, and that it integrates with the rest of Ropewalks. Wolstenholme Square could help raise standards in this part of Ropewalks and could provide for an intimate space for restaurants and cafés.

By Paul Blackburn