PLANS for the regeneration of Lime Street will not be called in by the Government.
The city council’s planning committee approved the £35m scheme by Neptune Developments to redevelop the east side of Lime Street earlier this month.
It involves radically redesigned buildings, incorporating a hotel, shops, restaurants and student accommodation to be followed by an entertainment and media hub in the restored ABC cinema which will be a further phase on Lime Street’s west side. It had not proved possible to save the facade of the former Futurist cinema within the new scheme because of its poor structural condition following deterioration over a number of years.
Because of the issue over the Futurist some heritage groups called on the Government to hold an inquiry into the plans despite the support for the plans from the Save The Futurist Campaign group with whom the Council and Neptune have been in dialogue about the plans for some time.
The city council has now been told that the Secretary for State for Communities and Local Government will not call in the decision.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said “I am glad that DCLG have recognised that this sort of decision is better made locally where there is a knowledge and understanding of the area.
“Lime Street is a key gateway route in the city centre but it is in desperate need of investment and upgrading. The current scheme went through a very rigorous evaluation before being determined.
“Of course, I understand the feeling about the Futurist, a building close to my heart as I know it is to many others. Considerable efforts were made to save it including commissioning two surveyors’ reports both of which concluded that its condition was so poor that there was simply no way it could be salvaged.
“There comes a point when you have to accept the inevitable and move forward and the Government’s decision allow us to do that.
“We want to get on with allowing the developers to invest in their vision and bring Lime Street up to a much higher standard than it has been for decades and one that is fitting for a major entry point into the city centre.”
Steve Parry, Managing Director of Neptune Developments commented: “We are pleased that the Government have respected a local decision made by people who know and understand the issues and the area. Lime Street urgently needs this project to happen and we have the investors and end-users primed and ready to go.
“The loss of The Futurist is regrettable but committed, local campaigners understand that the building had simply got to a point where restoration was impossible. It’s been frustrating to have London-based interest groups trying to derail the project, not least because we have demonstrated our commitment to conservation through the energy and ingenuity that we have invested in plans for the restoration of the landmark ABC cinema.
“This project and this building would have been jeopardised had this application been called in and development stalled for up to two years. This is a great result for Lime Street and Liverpool.”