Liverpool hopes the measures will give local people confidence to go out again
The UK city of Liverpool has announced a £450,000 project to help reimagine spaces “in an outdoor European style”.
The fund will be used to help local independent businesses redesign outdoor spaces and turn them into “high-quality” covered seating areas to make up for the internal space they are losing as a result of social distancing restrictions.
It hopes the measures will ensure many independent bars and restaurants are able to trade safely, while also creating a whole new ambience and dining experience for customers.
The city council will work with Liverpool BID Company – which supports 1,500 businesses in the city centre – and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as with a collection of creatives and designers.
The easing of restrictions on bars and restaurants is not expected until early July, but the city said it is keen to start getting itself ready to be as accessible and safe as possible in the coming months.
“Liverpool is the most welcoming city in the UK, and bringing people together is what we do best. Big events, sporting fixtures or just a night out, this city thrives on social interaction. The fact that is out of the question with social distancing, means we have to be innovative about how we keep our USP, but do so in a responsible way,” said Joe Anderson, mayor of Liverpool.
“We need to find a way to give local people confidence that they can continue to go out to eat, spend money in the local economy and have a good time safely. This is really important as we know that tourism is going to be badly affected by international travel restrictions.”
The funding is separate to, but will be aligned with, a government allocation of £443,000 for Liverpool from the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, which can be used for things such as signage, street markings and marketing campaigns.
The announcement is in addition to £2m committed earlier this month to install seven pop-up cycle routes, to encourage people to use sustainable means of transport to get around, rather than public transport or their car.
“We need to find a way to give local people confidence that they can continue to go out to eat, spend money in the local economy and have a good time safely.”
The money is coming from existing budgets, by repurposing capital spending to give businesses practical support for the Covid-19 emergency and alleviate the impact on the local economy.
It forms part of a wider recovery plan – more details of which will be announced in the coming weeks – to make sure that businesses in the city are given the best possible chance of survival.
Details of the criteria for the fund are being finalised and the process for being part of the pilot project will be announced in mid-June, once the phased reopening of retail in the city has begun and the impact been assessed.
Anderson continued: “Small, independent traders do not have the financial reserves or the borrowing power of big corporate companies, so it is up to us to come together and find ways to give them a helping hand through what is undoubtedly the biggest challenge of my lifetime.
“This is just one element of work we are doing with our partners, and we are looking hard at what we can do to support other sectors that are the big economic drivers for city, and we will be revealing more about this in the near future.
“These are tough times for our city, and we need to stick together and work together to emerge from it stronger and more united than ever.”
Living wall project
In a separate announcement, the city has installed a “living green wall” on the exterior of St Johns Shopping Centre.
Spanning 65 metres in length, it is one of the longest in the UK and has been installed as part of a project which seeks to increase green space in urban areas, improve air quality and support health and wellbeing.
The project is being led by The Mersey Forest and is funded through the EU Horizon 2020 project Urban GreenUP.
The installation, filled with more than 14,000 evergreen plants, encourages bees and other pollinators, while making the city centre greener and more environmentally sustainable.
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