Planit-IE to lead Cavern Quarter team

A team headed by Planit-IE has been chosen to deliver the spatial regeneration framework around Mathew Street in Liverpool city centre, the heart of the city’s musical heritage tourism pitch.

Also encompassing the adjacent Williamson Square area, the Cavern Quarter framework will enable the council to steer the future use of existing buildings and identify opportunities to attract new investment.

Planit’s team will devise a spatial plan and vision document aimed at enhancing the quality of attractions in the area and expanding on the city’s £90m a year music heritage industry, which currently supports over 2,000 jobs.

The business, now employee-owned, opened a Liverpool office earlier this year, and has also worked on projects around Anfield and Stanley Park, while it has this year taken forward an updated masterplan of the Liverpool Waters development zone.

P-IE has also been appointed as part of Feilden Clegg Bradley’s team at the University of Liverpool and has been working with Gower Street Estates at the Royal Albert Dock in the city.

The SRF masterplan, which will include consultation with stakeholders, local businesses and residents is tasked with exploring:

  • A more diverse mix of complimentary building uses that could operate throughout the day and evening
  • An enhanced and more coordinated music tourism offer, focused on Liverpool’s recently awarded UNESCO World City of Music status, with enhanced visitor attractions and interpretation
  • The redevelopment of derelict, under-used and undesirable buildings and sites
  • A diverse and inclusive programme for Williamson Square and the Playhouse Theatre
  • A comprehensive public art strategy
  • A wayfinding strategy to make the neighbourhood more legible and permeable
  • Active ground floor uses to create a more vibrant and inviting environment – with an equitable focus on the citizens of Liverpool alongside international visitors
  • Defining a clearer network of streets and squares

The professional team includes planner Arup; Fourth Street Consulting on destination development and economics;  GVA advising on property; Dave Pichilingi, founder of Sound City, on music history and event planning and Rob Burns advising on heritage.

The council said that the city’s Beatles-related business has been growing at 5-15% a year following the city’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008 with Cavern City Tours and the Cavern Club alone now attracting 800,000 visitors per year. Four-fifths of guests at the Hard Days Might hotel are international visitors.

LCC believes that visitors are increasingly looking for a “quality experiential visit” and that public investment in curating the environment around the Cavern area will pay off. City mayor Joe Andeson has created a Beatles Legacy group, chaired by ex-Farm singer and local cultural figurehead Peter Hooton.

Anderson said: “Liverpool’s musical heritage is known around the world but we can and must do more to showcase it to visitors who travel thousands of miles.

“This is about enhancing and expanding what we already have, particularly around Mathew Street which has been at the heart of the city’s music scene  for decades, with venues such as Eric’s and the Iron Door being as influential as the Cavern Club.

“This is a unique opportunity to establish an experience no other city can offer, with high quality design which will sustain thousands of jobs in the hotel, retail and hospitality sectors for generations to come. P-IE have a first class track record in delivering quality design and I am delighted that we have been able to secure their services.”

Pete Swift, managing director at P-IE, added: “We picked our team not just on their experience in producing design and planning guidance but on their knowledge and passion for Liverpool and its wider musical heritage.

“For us, this is no ordinary planning project, where we might focus on what a place will look like at the end, but rather how to control the journey along which Liverpool will showcase its rightful status as the most influential music city on the planet.

“Building our team around a music legend with a CV as impressive as Dave Pichilingi gives us an insight into how other world music cities – Hamburg, Nashville, Berlin and Austin, Texas for instance – use their most famous musicians or genres as a catalyst to wider and more diverse audiences. This is about harnessing the power of the Beatles to add unassailable resilience to Liverpool’s global brand.”

Once the draft SRF is produced it would then be subject to a formal consultation period that will be undertaken over a period of six weeks in the New Year. The feedback will influence the final draft of the document before the city council considers whether to formally adopt it.

The Cavern Quarter is classed as the area between North John Street to the west and Stanley Street and Paradise Street to the east, with Victoria Street to the north and Lord Street to the south, with Mathew Street at its heart.

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