Plans for a bus layover hub at Old Haymarket in Liverpool city centre have been approved, in the face of objections from councillors and business figures including Signature Living’s Lawrence Kenwright.
The proposal is part of the first phase of Liverpool’s £47m City Centre Connectivity project, which focusses on re-engineering routes in and out of the city’s commercial and retail districts. The first part of the roads element of this started in January, in Victoria Street.
The Haymarket site is currently used as a 39-space pay-and-display car park, owned and maintained by the city council. The plan is to create six bays in the car park and a further six on Old Haymarket itself, a street that houses several retail businesses and the Travelodge Liverpool Central.
Merseytravel predicts that up to 120 buses per hour will move through the site during the day between 7am and 7pm, with an average lay-over time of approximately five minutes, with less frequent use in the hours before and after. In total, there will be just under 1,700 bus movements through the hub per day as the city looks to cut down the distance travelled by empty buses between services.
A council spokesman told Place: “The council welcomes the decision. The Bus Hub is a critical element of the wider £47m City Centre Connectivity scheme, which will benefit greatly the planned changes to Victoria Street, Lime Street and Queen Square.
“The impact of removing 900,000km of bus journeys and 2,000 tonnes of Co2 from the atmosphere will provide huge benefits to traffic flow and air quality in the city centre.”
The plans were originally due to be heard in January, but were deferred for a site visit to be held. With this completed, committee voted on the plan yesterday, with four members voting in favour, one opposing and two abstaining.
Among those objecting at a busy meeting were Cllr Nick Small, who has also been a vocal opponent of the Bixteth Gardens replacement part of the Pall Mall project; Kenwright, who has hotel plans in the area; and the owners of Old Haymarket business Lovelock’s Coffee. Small yesterday said that the plans would “make air quality worse for residents and damage small businesses”.
Kenwright took to Twitter in the wake of the decision, stating that “if the Council believe that I am going to sit back and let them ruin our City, they clearly do not understand who we are & what we stand for. I WILL FIGHT THIS DECISION.”
If our Council believe that I am going to sit back and let them ruin our City, they clearly do not understand who we are & what we stand for.
I WILL FIGHT THIS DECISION@S_OldHaymarket
— Lawrence Kenwright (@LawKenwright) February 27, 2019
Kenwright has also clashed with the council recently over Everton Library, where the council this month invited expressions of interest from developers and community groups to take the site’s redevelopment on, a project it estimates will cost £5m and that Kenwright declared his interest in in 2018.
Opposition to the Haymarket plan has been evident since March 2018, with activity from the Save Old Haymarket social media feed throughout the year, but has failed to win enough support to sway councillors.
Andy Barr, assistant director of highways & planning at the council, outlined at the meeting how integral the bus layover space is to the wider plan to reshape the central road system. He also went through the alternative sites considered by the council, and said that Liverpool is under pressure to improve air quality in the city.
The council also insisted that the pending removal of the Churchill Way flyovers will not impact on the bus hub plan.