As urgent works at the derelict former Futurist Cinema on Lime Street continue into a third week, the latest statement from Liverpool City Council said it is aiming to have the building safe by Thursday 9 June.
Road closures have been in place since Monday 23 May, to enable contractors to deliver what was initially intended to be three days’ worth of emergency work at the site, after safety inspectors found the building was at risk of collapse.
The council attributed the delays to ongoing disputes with campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage. When work began, SAVE tried and failed to bring an injunction to stop activity on the building, as it was unhappy about the proposed methodology. However, a representative of SAVE, structural engineer Ed Morton of The Morton Partnership, was sent to reach an emergency agreement with the council over how best to preserve the building.
During the talks, the council agreed to only take down the minimum amount of the pediment necessary, and the wall head will be protected once deconstruction is completed. The blocks of the pediment will be taken down by hand, numbered and stored with a view to re-use should SAVE win a wider appeal over the proposed redevelopment of Lime Street, which is due to be heard on 22 June.
A council spokesman said: “This has taken far longer than we would have liked and work would have been completed shortly after the road closed had it not been for the legal action brought by SAVE Britain’s Heritage.
“We have had to follow the instructions of the Court of Appeal Judge, who ordered we resolve the disagreement by bringing in a new independent structural engineer to carry out another inspection and write a fresh report.
“This has now been completed and we will now be carrying out the works that the engineer has recommended. This will be completed by next Thursday, but we can’t open the road before it is declared completely safe. Public safety must be our utmost concern.
“Once again, we would like to thank motorists and commuters for their ongoing patience while the work is completed.”
The closure is from Skelhorne Street to Copperas Hill with pedestrian access maintained on the side of Lime Street opposite the Futurist.
The Futurist Cinema is due to be demolished, to make way for a £35m mixed-use redevelopment on part of Lime Street, by Neptune Developments with Regeneration Liverpool, a partnership between Sigma and the council. IBI Group and Broadway Malyan are advising.