Hospitality hot spot gearing up for great outdoors

One of Liverpool’s most celebrated hospitality hot spots is the next area to be transformed as part of the groundbreaking “Liverpool Without Walls” programme.

Lark Lane in Aigburth, which sits at the corner of Sefton Park in South Liverpool, will become a one-way road from Monday, 20 July to enable restaurants on the iconic street to use areas outside their businesses to increase the number of people they can serve under social distancing guidelines.

The temporary move is the latest pilot scheme for “Liverpool Without Walls”, an initiative by Liverpool City Council, Liverpool BID and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.

New government legislation on outdoor dining is expected to come into force on 20 July and the council has established an online form for businesses to apply for a pavement licence to take advantage, the fee for which will be waived.

The pilot scheme will also ensure eateries on Lark Lane are primed to capitalise on the new “eat out to help out” voucher which the government announced yesterday.

The first phase of “Liverpool Without Walls” involved the part pedestrianisation of Bold Street and Castle Street, in the city centre, which led to a number of eateries successfully opening up their outdoor areas last Saturday, 4 July.

It is estimated that these street dining schemes, which will be reviewed in consultation with business and residents, will add up to 1,000 hospitality covers a day across the city.

The new one-way system on Lark Lane, which allows vehicles to only enter from the Aigburth Road end, will include a series of new traffic measures to ensure the safe movement of residents and visitors throughout the day.

These safety measures include:
• Existing parking bays between Lark Way and Linnet Lane will be altered using signage and cones to provide footway for pedestrians.
• Existing Keep Clear traffic order for Auckland College will not be affected.
• Provision for loading bays, disabled parking bays and “open” parking bays throughout the north of the street between Lark Way to Lucerne Street and Pelham Grove to Linnet Lane.
• Waverley Road and Little Parkfield Road will also be one-way.
Full details of the alterations, times and restrictions around Lark Lane, as well as details on “Liverpool Without Walls”, can be found online at www.loveyourliverpool.com

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, said: “Lark Lane is a unique street, it has a fantastic mix of cafes and restaurants and by making it one-way we hope people are encouraged to come back and enjoy the area again. As we slowly come out of lockdown providing a strong local dining offer to customers is going to be a big key to keeping the infection rate down. And the beauty of outdoor schemes like this is that it’s a win-win situation – in terms of curtailing the spread of Covid and supporting businesses and jobs.

Liverpool Without Walls is a unique programme that we hope will evolve and grow over the coming weeks and months, and given it is already reaping rewards on Bold Street and Castle Street it is great to see its plans starting to roll out across the city.”

Councillor Sharon Connor, Cabinet Member for Highways and Regeneration, said: “Lark Lane is a hugely popular dining destination and following discussion with businesses there we’ve sought to introduce this temporary one-way system to allow them to bring furniture out to cope with the social distancing guidelines.

“A key element of this scheme, which will be closely monitored to see what improvements can be made, is to ensure people’s safety and accessibility – be they walking, cycling, pushing a buggy or in a wheelchair. We hope that this intervention, and all the additional infrastructure and marketing support, will go some way to helping the businesses bounce back.”

Lark Lane Neighbourhood Association has been working on a community Action Plan over the past couple of years. Leading this work is committee member Graham Marshall, who is also an Expert Advisor to the High Streets Task Force and Department for Communities NI working on high street policy development.

Graham said: “We were looking forward to getting the Action Plan off the ground when the Covid pandemic hit and brought everything to a halt. Because we had a plan and a network of local people discussing it, we were able to react positively and engage with the council proactively in these rapidly changing times. It’s not how anyone would choose to move forward but creating a safe and accessible pedestrian environment is a priority that must override all other considerations. A key element of the Action Plan from a community perspective is addressing the negative impact of traffic and this essential need for social distancing gives us a great opportunity to experience what the Lane can be like with reduced traffic and a greater focus on people.”

Talking of the Liverpool Without Walls fund and the supported the city council has provided the hospitality sector, Peter Kinsella of Lunya, which has eateries in Liverpool ONE and Albert Dock, said: “The funding for the Liverpool Without Walls scheme makes a huge difference to both of our restaurants. At a time when we are desperately short of cash, this funding enables us to expand the covers in our terraces, providing our guests with a much better outside experience and most importantly enable us to generate much needed revenue from outside space. We calculate that each £1 of the council grant, generates an additional £30 a year of revenue for us. It’s a lifesaver for the business and we are delighted with the support.”