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.
This footage taken by our crews at the scene of the fire at Kings Dock #Liverpool shows the scale of the fire they were faced with. Crews fought the fire valiantly and we are so proud of their efforts. Thanks to all partner agencies who worked closely with us at the scene. pic.twitter.com/bhmGmHTDYS
— Mersey Fire (@MerseyFire) January 2, 2018
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.