Sefton Council is advancing the revamp of its Strand shopping centre in Bootle, with some demolition work to start this year following the acquisition of adjacent sites.
The council bought the shopping centre in 2017 for around £32m, saying its ownership would create revenues and allow the centre to become the fulcrum of its plans to regenerate Bootle town centre.
The former Post Office site in Stanley Road has now been acquired – the Post Office now being based within the Strand – along with the Easirent van hire premises on Washington Road.
Sefton, which has released indicative CGIs by Leonard Design Architects of the New Strand project, said it is currently reviewing a range of short-term, cost-effective meanwhile uses for the site while long-term plans are worked out, and a consultation process completed. It hopes to have “meanwhile uses” up and running for the second quarter of 2021.
What will form part of the plans both short and long term is making better use of the centre’s canalside location, with an emphasis on food & beverage at this end of the site. Sefton said that introducing meanwhile measures will mean decommissioning certain areas of the centre, which may hit rental income.
Although the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will inevitably damage this year’s figures, the Strand made an operating surplus in the 2019/20 financial year, which Sefton said had been added to previous balances and enabled the investment of £1m to help fund other council services.
Leader of the council Cllr Ian Maher said: “The Strand and Bootle town centre remain central to the area’s regeneration and this is an opportunity to explore other uses for them.
“We want to transform the space so that it is more open and integrated with the surrounding community. It will be a beautiful public space hosting a wide range of uses and facilities, including retail but also food and drink and leisure opportunities..”
“In particular, we have an ambition to link The Strand to the canal, which can provide not only an attractive environment and space for leisure, but also ‘a green transport corridor’, for walking, cycling and travel by water. This would link The Strand with other parts of the borough, including the proposed new Everton stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.”
Sefton’s consultation process will, it said, include a “Festival of Ideas” in September.