A New Public Realm For Liverpool’s Hope Street
Liverpool’s Hope Street Quarter has just been refurbished, with an exciting and imaginative scheme of new public realm work secured by genuinely ‘bottom-up’ community engagement and local stakeholder buy-in. But this is only a beginning, for what could be one of the most important arts and cultural quarters in Europe.
Yesterday we celebrated the completion of the Public Realm renewal on Hope Street, Liverpool‘s prime cultural route. It was a very happy occasion, marking the culmination of some ten or fifteen years’ lobbying by HOPES: The Hope Street Association to ensure that, at last, Hope Street Quarter looks like what it is – a truly significant cultural locus for Liverpool, Merseyside, the North West of England and even beyond. Here you see two of the main supporters of HOPES’s campaign, Jim Gill, Chief Executive of Liverpool Vision, and Louise Ellman, Member of Parliament for Liverpool Riverside, which includes the Hope Street Quarter. Both Louise Ellman and Jim Gill worked with HOPES and Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the North West Development Agency, to secure the almost £3 million required so that the City of Liverpool would ensure that this important renaissance of Hope Street occurred.
What struck me particularly about the celebration of our new public realm yesterday was how very much this event was in keeping with the way Hope Street is developing. As we stood waiting for our photographs to be taken, standing by John King‘s famous ‘Suitcases’ sculpture (also entitled A Case History), people were spilling out from nearby Philharmonic Hall, resplendent in best frocks and colourful gowns, celebrating that day’s graduations. Every July and December students from all over the world emerge from the Phil Hall and from our two great cathedrals to take their first steps as graduates, on Hope Street, the ‘home’ in many different ways of the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Hope University and, indeed, of that soon-to-be independent LJMU affiliate, Liverpool School for Performing Arts (LIPA). How many other city streets anywhere can claim such distinction in the knowledge economy?
Public realm for public arts
That however was not the only cause for celebration on Hope Street yesterday. Later in the evening we returned to enjoy another happy event, the dress rehearsal of Brouhaha‘s open air event, Bollywood Steps, from the Nutkhut company of performers. Here was colour, energy and verve, presented on the newly installed steps of our great Catholic Cathedral, reaching down to Hope Street, towards the Anglican Cathedral, LIPA, and the ‘Suitcases’ sculpture at the top of Mount Street where we had been earlier in the day.
A continuing journey
These ceremonial and cultural events, all along the street as people celebrated achievement and energy, illustrate just how right it has been to focus on Hope Street; but our ‘journey’ must continue. We have now taken one enormous step forward – the completion of the public realm, hewn in granite and stone, which will remain with us to a large extent I’d guess for the next hundred years. But this is only a beginning. The next step is perhaps even more challenging for us all – to ensure that Hope Street delivers on its uniquely promising potential as an engine of regeneration for the whole of Liverpool and beyond.
Some people have said that Hope Street Quarter, stretching along the length of the city centre, far above the River Mersey, is Liverpool’s Acropolis. There are many ways in which this analogy holds true, but it is not as yet universally accepted. When Hope Street is generally perceived to rival London’s South Bank, or the Left Bank of Paris, we shall have achieved what we have set ourselves to do.
Read more about the Suitcases and about Hope Street Quarter.
Posted on July 29, 2006, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, Events And Notable Dates, HOPES: The Hope Street Association, Knowledge Ecology And Economy, Liverpool And Merseyside, People And Places, Politics, Policies And Process, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience, Travel and tagged Hope Street, Liverpool, Public realm, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.