Zip Wire Route
The zip wire was proposed to run between St Johns Beacon and Central Library

Zip wire changes trigger further quarrel

Neil Tague

Disagreement over Zip World’s plans for an attraction in Liverpool’s historic core has stepped up again, after the operator announced intended alternations to the scheme.

Although planning permission with was granted with conditions in June, opponents to the project have remained vocal, with petitions gathering support in the thousands and an open letter from social enterprise Engage Liverpool winning the support of a clutch of high profile arts and cultural figures.

The attraction, to be operated by North Wales operator Zip World, is intended to connect St Johns Beacon and Central Library, passing over St. Johns Shopping Centre, Hood Street, Roe Street, St George’s Place, St John’s Lane and Gardens and William Brown Street. 

The original plan was to house the ‘adventure terminal’ for customers to check in within the Central Library building. This will now be located at St Johns Shopping Centre which will reduce the presence of Zip World at Central Library. Riders will continue to land on the new rooftop of the library but they will be escorted out the premises via the service lift and returned to the adventure terminal.

A further benefit of the alterations is that it will boost neighbouring retailers at St Johns, while giving Zip World a ‘shopfront’. The operator said that it is investing approximately £5m into the adventure attraction and is creating 30 jobs. Zip World is projecting that the attraction will boost visitor numbers to the city by around 300,000 when it opens next year. 

Commercial director Andrew Hudson said: “Zip World chose Liverpool above other cities because of its historic connection with North Wales, the home of the current three sites and 13 adventures. Zip World Liverpool will be a real first because we are creating the fastest urban zip line in the world which will put the city on the international tourism map yet again. 

“However, whilst the overall reaction, especially from retailers and businesses in the city has been incredibly positive, we’ve listened to a variety of opinions and that is why we have taken the decision to relocate the kit-up area to St Johns Shopping Centre which will significantly reduce any impact on the Central Library.”

Far from pacifying the scheme’s opponents though, this change seems to have sparked further efforts to force to council to rethink its decision to approve the scheme as presented. Cllr Richard Kemp, leader of Liverpool’s Liberal Democrat opposition, has written to Liverpool City Council chief executive Tony Reeves asking for full scrutiny of proposals before the city enters into a contract with Zip World.

In the letter, Cllr Kemp asks for an impartial evaluation of three factors: the net effect of the tourists it would bring in; the net effect on the council’s finances; and assurance that every potential location has been looked at “before we agree to one that would seriously damage the architectural heritage of the city”.

He said: “I hope that the company will bring a zipwire to Liverpool but not to this location, which I believe could have a bad effect on our tourist offer and the total of the council’s finances.

“I don’t know whether this is the case and no one else does either. That’s why the proposition has to be fully and impartially scrutinised by our officers before a full decision is made.”

The Zip World proposal does, however, have the support of much of Liverpool’s leisure, retail and hospitality sector, which, like other UK cities, has suffered a battering in 2020 amid the pandemic.

Frank McKenna, chief executive of the Downtown Liverpool in Business group, was a figurehead of July’s 130-strong letter of support to the council.

Speaking to Place North West this morning, he said: “Liverpool’s regeneration over the last 15 years has come on the back of the visitor economy, and right across the sector there will be severe challenges in the coming years.

“The mayor and council have been incredibly supportive of cultural events, conferencing, and initiatives like the International Business Festival, but councils are under financial pressure and might not have the resource to support things, even where there’s the inclination.

“There’s been some misunderstanding and misinformation about this, but it’s a premium attraction that will bring people in who spend in hotels, bars, restaurants and the rest. The argument that it will disturb the memorial garden is scaremongering from the people who complain about anything and everything that comes forward in Liverpool.”

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Disappointing to see so many vocal powerful voices speaking out against proposals that would obviously bring in tourism and money to the city centre. Especially when shops and units are becoming increasingly vacant.

By Andrew

This has been forced through knowing the backlash.

They are not going to change the location…the company must be living all this free publicity. It will save them a fortune on marketing.

No one cares about Liverpool. It wouldn’t surprise me if the company expanded and got some grade A office space in Manchester as its headquarters.

By Michael McDonut

Is anyone really that bothered about riding on a zip wire with everything that’s going on…it’s hardly that exciting. Stupid idea in my opinion….it would never have been approved in Manchester city centre

By Steve

Right chaps, let’s get our heads together and figure out how we can blame this on Manchester

By Anonymous

Is Liverpool really struggling to attract tourists? I can understand why this would be attractive in some locations, but I’ve never seen Liverpool as a city that doesn’t have enough tourism…

By H

Some people are so busy obsessing over Manchester that they blind side themselves. Some of these blind sided types don`t even live in Liverpool anymore but think they always know better.

By I live in Liverpool

Let’s build a zip wire across the ship canal on Salford quays.

By Darren born bred.

The main shopping area and St John`s gardens is just not appropriate , they need to do the sensible thing and re-locate this to Everton Park, there they will have the height to look out over the city and the gradient, all they will have to do is erect the towers at each end to house the machinery.
There is loads of parking up there for families and visitors , and for taxis to drop people off, they can sight portakabins for reception areas and refreshments in the interim, and if its successful there make something permanent.

By sound

Why can’t they understand that it’s the location – the library, the gardens, and St George’s Hall that is the problem. Find somewhere else to put it.

By Anonymous

LCC need to make public the price and incentives that Zip World have got for being able to use Central Library. LCC’s backroom deals are starting to become infamous in the development sector. The consequent lack of delivery of developments in the city that add significant economic GVA and taxation is all too evident relative to Leeds and Manchester.

By Anonymous

Hi Mr Donut! When are they going to build more Liverpool office’s and is it the government that is stopping it? I read about all this on the skyscraper web site and I want to try the zip wire but I don’t want it stopping the peace and quiet in the librey. Maybe I am too old for it anyway!!!?

By Mary Woolley

I see on the Place North west list of signatories for the supposedly pro zip wire support list the Philharmonic is still on it. Engage Liverpool website notes that the Echo removed it.

Anyway. This plan change is both fluff and interesting at the same time.

Fluff because it does nothing to change how awful the plan is. Interesting because of what may really be behind it.

I am especially interested as to why there seems to be such desperation on the part of some to see it go ahead, despite the strength of feeling (and the facts of course).

If the court case goes ahead it will be even more interesting if the council try to backtrack further to avoid it.

Keep going all. “The usual suspects” (that’s the people of the city of Liverpool, by the way) have got them on the run.

By Mike

If the zippers landed in a less busy or not on a cultural important building such as the Central Library I am sure it wouldn’t be as controversial.
Maybe if it ended in the Albert Dock or something more sedate and restful such as the council offices by the waterfront, I am sure it would n’t disrupt the workers there?

By Time for Change.

TBH I can see why the Retail sector would want this even if the location is so wrong.Anything that will help boost tourism even a little and keep the Shops and restaurants open is going to get a pass. I don’t care what city you’re in its going to get tough out there.

By Nve

It is not a “premium attraction”. And the punters are not likely those who will have much interest in art, culture or architecture. Frank McKenna is a paid mouthpiece and has no active interest or investment in the city’s civic legacy.

Desperation is never a good look. And we only have to look to Signature Living to see the type of custom that this would attract. It was said that Signature Living was all about jobs and spending too, which was why its illegal roof top extension was nodded through planning in retrospect. Forget the multiple negative reviews regarding water condensation, falling woodwork and plaster and leaking roofs. Not to mention the mass brawls and even deaths.

Only a city, or its supposed leaders, without civic pride or sensitivity to its cultural legacy could ever imagine that this proposal could ever be acceptable.

By JA

Liverpool is not struggling to attract tourists. But it does need to attract a more cultured type of visitor, not just the multiple stag and hen parties that make certain areas of the city a no-go area after dark. The city was not built by and for philistines. It was built to be a great cultural and civic centre.

By JA

Can’t Place Northwest move on from this? It’s a non story now. P’s The A59 in Walton is getting some repairs done.

By Gollum

The reason the library/zip changing facilities have been backtracked on is because the council ( Joe) now realises that they had not really thought through the consequences for the library; and also hadn’t counted on the public becoming aware of this proposal before it was all too late to stop it.

This has been in discussion and planning for several years, and considering that its supporters see it as this amazing proposal that would be some kind of world first for the city, how come it only leaked into public awareness at the start of this year. Why no prior publicity?

I think we can all guess why.

By JA

There is nothing wrong with a zip wire, if thats what you want; but NOT in this location please.

By Henry

Its all bread and circuses under the current Labour administration in Liverpool. Keep the masses happy with cheap thrills, and just maybe they won’t realise the incompetency of their leadership. However, they got it wrong, and the public is not half so stupid as some seem to think. Plus, they have more pride in their city than some of their own leaders,

By JA

i carnt wait to have a go on it. i dont care about all the naysayers and killjoys.

By nogzi

I’ve been arguing about this on Twitter with some of my die hard imbecile trolls.

I suspect this zip wire has been done deliberately to divide opinion and act as a smokescreen to further strengthen the status quo.

Manchester will be laughing at us, and so will Leeds. But hey..we’re just a tacky satellite tourist town. Who are we to complain?

By Michael McDonut

LCC has form for passing proposals ( often after the fact) using the rationale of ‘jobs and visitors’. But this short term’ism just comes across as desperate and totally lacking in imagination, or foresight; let alone cultural sensitivity.Liverpool has form for leaders who trash the city’s treasures ( botanic gardens/historical collections and so on) under the banner of ‘for the people’.

The city does not need more thrill seeking visitors of the sort that are attracted to these types of establishments and/or proposals. We’ve witnessed the bad, unsavoury behaviour, very recently, that this sort of visitor economy results in. In fact some of them are still in hospital with serious head injuries after a mass brawl outside of such an establishment ( very near to St John’s Gardens).

The city is blessed with a world class civic legacy and it is in this area of the city that it reaches it zenith. Zip wire thrills belong in the derelict north docks, where they might well aid regeneration. Not here!

By JA

Isn’t there a way it can be moved underground so it is less visible?

It’s only a little wire.

By Brian

And oh…. Frank McKenna’s talk about doing things “”out of the box’’ shows how he really views the city. He’s too busy in ‘downtown Manchester’ clearly saving the better ideas for them.

By Michael McDonut

Yawn. Let’s move on.

By Regular northerner.

Today’s comments is all about this zip wire over Liverpool.. Tomorrow’s comments will be all about the bbc2 programme tonight about expensive high rise blocks around Manchester and the city of Salford and none of them for the size you get will be affordable housing for most people.

By Darren born bred.

Liverpools Manchester fixation can get very boring sometimes.

By Anonymous

“we are creating the fastest urban zip line in the world”. Doesn’t this just raise the cost of the experience from £10 per second in flight in Wales, to £20 per second in Liverpool?

By Bob

I personally hope its a success and makes lots of money for Liverpool. The ones who are against it are not real scousers because real scousers arent stuck up.

By Crock

The zip wire isn’t a bad idea it’s just in the wrong location nearer the waterfront would seem more appropriate.

By Anonymous

NO

By Mwhite

A good compromise!
(I’d say the ones talking about Manchester are from Manchester. They’re talking about themselves, whist pretending to be from here).

By Red Squirrel

Will the wire be strong enough to pull down the beacon!? I hope not!!

By Mary Woolley

I think it’s a great idea…bit daft but a good laugh and a bit of fun for those brave enough to go on it.

By North by North-West

It truly is vile! To put such a thing amongst all the fabulous buildings. Its just ‘nasty’ it makes you wonder what does Liverpool want to be? I am saying this as a native. I am totally bemused!

By Lizzy Baggot

Sound has the right idea! Why can’t it go in a park, not sure where in Everton Park – but whichever park then could have a visitors centre (not sure what happened with the one that was being built over the view at Everton Park) and that would give a bit back to a part of the city that needs it – plus not far out of town anyway!

By Lizzy Baggot

@ Mary Wolley

The forces of the wire and passenger(s) imparted onto the concrete superstructure are miniscule compared to the horizontal wind loadings that the beacon endures daily.

What will be interesting is the integrity of the fixing detail of the cable anchor into the concrete superstructure of the beacon.

By North by North-West

1. Liverpool posters need to stop mentioning Manchester on the PNW comments page continually.
2. The zip wire proposal is a joke.
3. The Giants. Is ‘the’ prime example of Liverpool getting it right.

By jrb

What about locating the Zip from the top of the Anglican down to St John’s? They allow people up the tower now and save them walking down?

By Just saying

This is coming at a cost of £5million at a time when council spending has been vastly reduced. Basic infrastructure needs improving before frivolous expenditures like this are made. And who the hell would travel to Liverpool for the purpose of going on a zip wire?! It’s an expensive and pointless novelty at best.

By D