Echo Arena Merseyside Fire
Image: Merseyside Fire & Rescue

Demolition likely at Echo Arena car park

Jessica Middleton-Pugh and Neil Tague

Uncertainty surrounds the future of the Liverpool Waterfront car park next to ACC Liverpool following the New Year’s Eve blaze which led to the write-off of all 1,300 vehicles within the car park, and caused internal collapses within the building.

Although there were no casualties, the fire proved difficult to contain in a facility lacking a sprinkler system. The blaze was finally extinguished on 1 January, but left the structural integrity of the seven-storey building in serious doubt. Firefighters working at the site reported internal collapses, and independent observers have told Place North West that the necessity of demolition looks “extremely likely”. Structural engineers visited the site, which remains cordoned off, yesterday.

Hundreds of visitors were left stranded, with the city council opening a temporary facility at the Lifestyles sports centre in Toxteth for those requiring temporary shelter. Praising the response by the emergency services, city mayor Joe Anderson bemoaned public sector funding cuts and has written to Nick Hurd, minister for police and fire services, regarding the possibility of making sprinkler systems compulsory.

The incident leaves ACC Liverpool – which is made up of the Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre – and the car park’s owner, the city council, with some major headaches, not least a shortfall of 1,600 parking spaces. There is still surface parking available at Kings Dock, although planning consent was last month given to the development of a call centre for The Contact Company on the plot, which developer YPG has previously said it hoped to start building in the first half of this year.

If the multi-storey car park is demolished, the incident could provide an opportunity for ACC and the council to re-design the facility, which has previously been criticised for a lack of bridge connecting into the arena and conference centre. However, with negotiating insurance pay-outs, procurement of design and construction teams, and the build period, a replacement project could take a couple of years.

Liverpool City Council has been contacted for comment. A statement from ACC released this morning confirmed that all upcoming events would be proceeding as planned.

Also on New Year’s Eve, a fire started at the Light building in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The 81,000 sq ft building, at 19 storeys the area’s tallest, includes 172 apartments, 62 of which are operated as The Light Aparthotel. The blaze started on a ninth floor balcony – outside of the aparthotel – and spread to apartments over a further three floors before being extinguished.

The building, which was completed in 2008, was acquired by Supercity Aparthotels at the start of December 2017 in the operator’s first venture outside London. Supercity said on its acquisition that it intends to refurbish and relaunch the aparthotel facility over the course of this year. Supercity has been approached for comment.

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This does raise the question of how safe our car parks are, many people and myself in the past live in apartment blocks and work in offices etc with undercroft parking. We did not have sprinklers and I wonder what the regulations are for this type of parking. I know underground parking have too but are there serious flaws in our planning and construction process?

By Man on Bicycle

Also raises the issue of why we have so much car parking in our city centres? Liverpool is over-run and dominated by cars, despite having an extensive underground train network. If there was integrated ticketing with buses and car parking outside the centre, it was marketed and made a bit cheaper, then we would not need so many huge, expensive, wasteful and clearly dangerous city centre car parks. Germany manages to do this, and people are much happier to use public transport there. Why cant we?

By Peter Black

This carpark is very neccessary, people come from all over the UK for shows and exhibitions.
Bringing with them exhibition materials and samples etc.
Many of the shows end late and public transport is not always available at those times so having a carpark right next door is a real bonus and one of the many reasons why the ACC is a huge success.

By Liverpolitis

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