Lewis’s, Lime Street And Liverpool Losing Out

Lewis'sStoreClosing Notice 2007.4 (small)90x134.jpg Liverpool city centre is in a state of flux, as the Big Dig re-routes and bewilders in equal measure. The aim is that the city centre will become a pleasant, business-friendly place to be. The disgraceful state of Renshaw Street, linking Lime Street Station to the city south end, sadly belies that intent. It’s scruffy and delapidated; does it have to be like this?
Renshaw Street Liverpool from Lewis's to Lime Street  160x196.jpg Lewis'sStatue 160x81.jpg Liverpool Lime Street looking down Renshaw Street to Lewis's 160x209  2007.4.jpg

The steel-grey vistas above are what first greet visitors to Liverpool’s city centre. The once-mighty Lewis’s department store and the street from there to the main train station look much as some of us recall them thirty years ago, except perhaps they are less well scrubbed. And to add to this we now have the challenge of the City Centre Movement Strategy (CCMS) ‘in action’ every time we come into town.
The Big Dig as a way of life
To those familiar with Liverpool’s city centre the Big Dig has become a way of life. Intended to make the heart of Liverpool ‘fit for purpose’ for the celebratory years of 2007 and 2008, this now seemingly perennial feature of the city centre experience feels to have become a liability for Liverpool’s citizens, rather then an opportunity to enhance our future.

Many are asking whether a city which has suffered so much digging of holes and diversion of traffic in all directions can actually survive as an economic entity until the works are finally completed. The word is that some local businesses are going to the wall, especially in the train station area around Liverpool Lime Street, RenshawStreet and the Adelphi Hotel (not, it seems, itself under duress).
Enterprise endangered
Certainly, there have already been casualties. Heart & Soul, Chumki Banerjee’s signature bistro restaurant just around the corner on Mount Pleasant, has closed and Lewis’s Ltd (quite a different retail company from John Lewis) is rumoured after many years – it was founded in 1856 – to be folding imminently (mid-May 2007). There are also suggestions that
some other long-established local stores are at risk.
A relaxed approach to regeneration?
No-one denies that improvements to the city centre are required; but many question the apparently relaxed approach the City Council and others have taken to achieving this.
Work on the Big Dig seems at best to be nine-to-five, and nobody, as far as one can tell, has a responsibility actually to clean up the grimly grey and crumbling retail and commercial buildings along Renshaw Street from Lime Street.
Take a fresh look – and freshen up!
Is it surprising that businesses in this well-established part of town are feeling the pinch? Who would choose to walk from Lime Street up to Lewis’s along a street resembling the set of a 1960s kitchen sink melodrama, when they can instead take the
crossing outside the station into the pedestrian zone?
Perhaps some city leaders need to walk this walk, as well as talking the theoretical talk about the local infrastructural wonders we can soon expect.
Support the positive
There will always be brave souls who find a way forward. Fleur Hair and Beauty, previously located in the now-collapsing Lewis’s department store, has taken a walk across the road to the Adelphi Hotel Health Club, where the business can re-consolidate. No doubt there are others too who have faced the future and re-grouped.
Things are never static, especially in the world of enterprise, and to some extent this is good. That, however, does not excuse the failure of city local leaders to address problems which are beyond
the control of all but the very largest businesses.
Challenging market conditions
This is a city with more than the usual proportion of small and medium sized enterprises (compared to large ones – but still low in proportion to the public sector). These SMEs, often owned and run by individuals who actually live in Liverpool, have little slack in their business plans to accommodate civic laxity.
Not all businesses are equally effectively run, but Liverpool can’t afford the luxury of just letting private sector interests go to the wall without any support.
Nurture the positives
As I have said before, Regeneration Rule No. 1 has to be:
First nurture the positive assets you already have.

It’s not just the interests of visitors to our 2007 and 2008 celebrations that we must protect. The concerns of local workers and entrepreneurs are also core.
They, after all, are the people who hope still to be here in 2009.

FleurVaughan150x224.jpg Fleur Health & Beauty
Spindles Health Club
The Britannia Adelphi Hotel
Ranelagh Place (Renshaw Street)
Liverpool L3 5UL
0151-709 7200 x 044

And a happy PS: Fleur has now re-opened her salon in the ‘rescued’ Lewis’s, to run alongside the Adelphi salon – Lewis’s, Ranelagh Street, 0151-709 7000.

Posted on May 12, 2007, in Liverpool And Merseyside, People And Places, Politics, Policies And Process, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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