Part of Lime Street in Liverpool is to remain closed until midnight on Tuesday 31 May, after structural experts advised that the derelict former Futurist Cinema is still “in a precarious state and condition”, despite three days of work by contractors to make it safe.
The council’s building control manager, in conjunction with civil and structural engineering firm Sutcliffe, have said that the risk of building collapse has not yet been eliminated, “due to the complex nature of the structure and the progressive failure of individual elements”.
Part of Lime Street has been closed since Monday to enable contractors to work on parts of the structure that have been identified as at risk of collapse. The road was due to reopen again this morning.
A report by safety inspectors last month found the condition of the structure on Lime Street had deteriorated with internal collapse, leaning walls and a high risk that cladding tiles may fall off. Since then, a further independent report found it is in worse condition than first thought, with a fear that the entire façade could collapse when work begins to make it safe.
The city council asked the Court of Appeal on 16 May to consider an alternative plan which would have meant taking the structure down to ground level without closing the road. This was rejected by a judge following an objection from SAVE Britain’s Heritage who, at an earlier hearing on 6 May, unsuccessfully attempted to get the essential safety work halted altogether.
On Monday, SAVE tried and failed to bring an injunction to stop the work, as it was unhappy about the proposed methodology. However, a representative of SAVE, structural engineer Ed Morton of The Morton Partnership, was sent to reach an emergency agreement with the council over how best to preserve the building.
During the talks, the council agreed to only take down the minimum amount of the pediment necessary, and the wall head will be protected once deconstruction is completed. The blocks of the pediment will be taken down by hand, numbered and stored with a view to re-use should SAVE win a wider appeal over the proposed redevelopment of Lime Street, which is due to be heard on 22 June.
A council spokesman said: “The decision to continue with the road closure is not one that we have taken lightly. The council recognises the inconvenience caused to motorists and businesses, however public safety is of paramount importance. We would like to thank people for their continued patience, understanding and co-operation.”
The closure is from Skelhorne Street to Copperas Hill with pedestrian access maintained on the side of Lime Street opposite the Futurist.
The Futurist Cinema is due to be demolished, to make way for a £35m mixed-use redevelopment on part of Lime Street, by Neptune Developments with Regeneration Liverpool, a partnership between Sigma and the council. IBI Group and Broadway Malyan are advising.