Liverpool City Council’s cabinet will this week be asked to approve the submission of County Road, Walton as its candidate for a city region-wide improvement programme.
Each local authority within the Liverpool city region has been allocated £1m to target a particular town centre – in Liverpool’s case a district centre – to “find a new purpose and play a significantly different role for their communities”. The policy was announced by metro mayor Steve Rotheram in July 2018.
The report that goes before Cabinet on Friday makes the case for County Road, one of 15 identified district centres within the city, and one of four identified as facing the most challenges – the others being Breck Road, Great Homer Street and London Road. County Road is being put forward primarily because of the massive impact the impending relocation of Everton FC to Bramley-Moore Dock will have on local businesses.
The report said that: “Investment now would position the area to develop a series of plans to build the robustness and resilience of the district centre and form a wider programme of investment which could be considered for future SIF rounds or a future bid for the Government’s High Street Fund.”
The area has benefited relatively recently from Mary Portas High Street Fund support and still has national retailers including Tesco Metro, Aldi, McDonalds, Co-op and Superdrug, along with a post office, two banks and a variety of public sector facilities. However, the retail vacancy rate is high, at 19% against a national average of 11%, much of its shops are in a poor state and the area suffers from high levels of deprivation.
As the fund is not designated as a property fund, no more than 50% of it can be used for capital works, and the report said that “it is expected and hoped that interventions will lead to a wider programme of investments from other funding streams or through the SIF itself”.
Led by the director of regeneration Nick Kavanagh, planning and engagement work will begin, once approved, to develop an action plan which will set out the programme of interventions to support the revitalisation and future resilience of County Road District Centre. This will involve local members, appropriate cabinet members, the business community, residents and key local stakeholders including Everton, and will align with existing plans and proposed investment in areas such as transport and housing.
The council will also commission work to develop a retail strategy for the city’s district centres which will support their future sustainability and resilience, it said.