Anfield demolition paves way for new High Street

Anfield regeneration, pic by Jon Caswell

The first phase of demolition works is underway on Walton Breck Road following the unveiling last year of ambitious plans to create a new high street in Anfield.

Walton Breck Road’s regeneration will include:

* Scores of derelict buildings demolished or rebuilt
* Road narrowed to create wider pavements and make it more pedestrian-friendly
* New outdoor spaces and high quality landscaping
* New retail, leisure, and food and drink operators to stand alongside Liverpool FC’s new flagship store
* A new hotel

Liverpool City Council unveiled the vision for the new high street in August 2016 and following community consultations is now looking to create a main thoroughfare in the neighbourhood that will complement the £260m regeneration project, a partnership between the city council, Your Housing Group and Liverpool FC, which began in June 2013.

The start of demolitions follows the completion of Liverpool FC’s main stand expansion and the £3.2m restoration of Stanley Park.

The work is to be carried out in phases over the next three years, with the first phase comprising demolitions, planned acquisitions of commercial and mainly vacant residential property and business relocations. The current demolition of two blocks at Venice and Vienna Street intersections with Walton Breck Road will be finished by March.

Liverpool City Council is in discussions with existing businesses about future opportunities and is working with businesses and other organisations to ensure there is minimum disruption.

It is hoped that eventually the changes will attract new business and investment to a unique location next to one of the world’s most famous football clubs. Work on Liverpool FC’s flagship store on the high street has already begun and is expected to complete July 2017, creating 60 permanent and casual roles.

Councillor Ann O’Byrne, deputy mayor of Liverpool, said:We are not there yet but this is a massive step forward for the Anfield regeneration project and an important day for the community. We’ll be creating a new modern high street fit for the 21st century, with roads being narrowed and green corridors from the stunningly beautiful Stanley Park, right the way through to Robson Street.

“At the heart of the project has been community involvement, making sure that everyone is fully aware of all the plans and decisions that are being made and having influence over everything we do. It’s great to see from the public consultation, that residents in Anfield are overwhelmingly in support of the work that we’re doing here today and the plans for the future.”

At a series of public engagement events in November 2016 the existing high street was recognised as a key area for improvement in Anfield with more than 90 per cent of residents agreeing that plans for the new retail provision would greatly improve the neighbourhood.

Further, 89 per cent strongly agreed that plans for a green spine linking Stanley Park with Robson Street will improve the neighbourhood and 81 per cent agreed the plans for a hotel will also bring improvements.

Pete Swift, managing partner at Planit-ie who helped design the new high street and who has been working on Anfield projects since 2002, said: “At the start of the Anfield Regeneration Partnership the rejuvenation of the high street was identified as a key project, so this is the start of the realisation of those plans – to rebuild an entire high street next to one of the most famous football clubs in the world.

“I don’t like the word ‘masterplan’ – I think it’s a grand plan, because it’s made up of lots of smaller plans – more than the sum of its parts. So if one doesn’t quite work out it can be changed without really affecting the rest. 

“Designers never get everything right first time and everyone’s views have been important, but I look at it now and I think we’re going to be very proud of what comes out in the end, because this actually feels right and feels more appropriate than previous plans, no less ambitious, but just different and what’s nice is that everybody is positive about it.

“Everyone might not always agree on everything but I genuinely think this is going to make a difference. Three years of partnership working are clearly going a long way towards creating a more vibrant and successful community.”