Liverpool Without Walls has it ‘covered’

Restaurants, cafes and bars in the city centre can now cater for a further 2,723 covers thanks to the Liverpool Without Walls programme.

In what is believed to be the first project of its kind in the country, Liverpool City Council launched a £450,000 fund in June to help local small to medium sized businesses redesign outdoor spaces and turn them into high quality, covered seating areas – making up for the internal space they have lost as a result of social distancing restrictions.

Liverpool Without Walls received more than 150 applications within a matter of weeks and so far has:

  • Allocated a total of £177,503 of grants to independent businesses.
  • Created 1,982 additional covers in total across the city through providing grants for venues to invest in new outdoor furniture.
  • Created an additional 741 covers by allocating new pavement licences to those venues which didn’t require the grant funding, but wanted to make the most of trading on the street. The fee for these licences has been waived until the end of the year.

Due to demand, the grant process is currently on hold and will be reopened if all of the funding hasn’t been allocated to the current tranche of applicants.  

The city centre element of the programme is a joint project between the city council, Liverpool BID Company and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.  

The programme has seen Bold Street closed to traffic across the summer and attractive wooden parklets installed along the road, transforming the area, which has proved to be hugely popular with businesses and visitors. Part of Castle Street has also been temporarily closed to traffic, enabling venues to spill out on to the streets.   

This initiative forms part of a wider recovery plan which has also seen a special fund created aimed at the city’s arts organisations and freelance community to bring culture to the streets of Liverpool.  Applications are still open for this and more information can be found on the Culture Liverpool website.

The money for Liverpool Without Walls is coming from existing budgets, by re-purposing capital spending to give businesses practical support for the Covid-19 emergency and alleviate the impact on the local economy. The majority of the businesses which are part of the programme have also signed up for the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out, 50 per cent off scheme.

Liverpool’s Deputy Mayor and cabinet member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “We’re massively proud of the Liverpool Without Walls programme and the fact that the city council was quick out of the blocks in doing what it could to try and ensure the survival of this vital sector.

“We’ve been approached by a number of cities across the UK that have been following with interest what we have achieved and looking at how they can replicate it in their areas which is a real compliment to the hard work which has gone on behind the scenes.

“The simple ethos behind the initiative is to try and protect the future of our much-loved hospitality industry, in particular the independent businesses, and give visitors the confidence to come back and enjoy our restaurants, bars and cafes in a safe way.

“This certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all project and we are learning and changing things as we go along, but these figures are incredible and hopefully offers some light at the end of the tunnel for businesses as they welcome customers back.

“But we are aware that this is very much a sticking plaster and we wait for news from central Government about how they plan to support the sector.”

Andy Aldrich, owner of the Viva Brazil Restaurant which is located on Castle Street said: “Liverpool Without Walls Programme is a fantastic initiative and something which I really welcome.

“It has certainly impacted on my business in a very positive way and massively supported at this very challenging time.

“I truly believe the programme is yet another example of how Liverpool always pulls together and supports each other when it is most needed.

“I would welcome similar schemes being rolled out in other parts of the UK where I also have restaurants.”

Peter Kinsella owner 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.”