The decision to grant planning permission to Zip World for a £4m scheme to install a 400-metre wire between St Johns Beacon to Liverpool Central Library has met with criticism from commentators.
The zip wire would pass over St. John’s Shopping Centre, Hood Street, Roe Street, St. George’s Place, St. John’s Lane and Gardens and William Brown Street, operating from 9am to 8pm daily.
Zip World operates three zip line adventure parks in North Wales. The urban zip wire project in Liverpool is the company’s fourth venture.
Prior to the approval, objections were raised by critics including Liverpool Central ward councillors Nick Small and Maria Toolan, who opposed the project on the grounds that it would have a negative impact on the amenity of St. John’s Gardens, St. George’s Hall and other buildings within St. George’s Quarter.
In addition, hospitality group Marriott International, which operates a hotel under the path of the zip wire, raised concerns over potential noise implications.
The council received a total of 29 objections from neighbours who said the scheme would represent a distraction for passing vehicles. One raised concerns over the Disneyfication of one of the city’s most cultural areas, making it appear “tacky”.
And a comment from the War Memorials Trust advised that the zip line course over St John’s Gardens would provide a negative contribution to the setting, which includes war memorials. A monument commemorating the Hillsborough tragedy is also located in St John’s Gardens.
A statement from Zip World said the company would not operate on “significant memorial days” and sought to reassure the city of Liverpool that Zip World “recognises the sensitivity of the heritage assets associated with the plans”.
Sean Taylor, founder and president of Zip World, added: “As a former Royal Marine, any memorial to our armed forces is of great significance. We also have several Liverpool FC supporters in the team and understand the sensitivity needed around the Hillsborough memorial.”
Downtown in Business, a networking group with offices across the North and the Midlands, was in favour of the scheme prior to consent, as were two residents and two tourism companies in Chester, according to a council report.
After Liverpool City Council approved the scheme, several members of the public slammed the decision as “terrible”, “utterly outrageous” and “sad”.
Cllr Jon Burke, ward councillor for Woodberry Down in the London Borough of Hackney and cabinet member for energy and transport, waded in saying: “This is an absolute travesty. Liverpool, a once proud city, reduced to a stag do theme park. Awful, awful decision.”
The statement added that Zip World had “worked hard to ensure the proposal to Liverpool City Council does not compromise the setting.”
Zip World’s Taylor said: “We have worked tirelessly with our planning team over the last 18 to 24 months to get the Zip World Liverpool project to this point.
“We would be honoured to be a part of this incredible city with its history and culture. There is no city like it.”
Meanwhile, Neil Ashcroft, centre manager for St John’s Shopping Centre, said he was “delighted” with the decision to approve the plans.
“We recognise that over the coming years the centre, and the city, need to innovate and offer new experiences to shoppers and tourists alike,” he said.
“The new Zip World attraction will create interest, bring in new visitors and add a certain wow factor to the area, which is just what we need right now.”
A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “The Council has noted the approval of planning permission for the zip wire from St Johns Beacon to Central Library. There are a number of discussions to now follow to further understand and explore the details around the implementation of this potential attraction.”
DK Architects designed the scheme and Walker Sime is project manager and quantity surveyor.