By Harriet Morphy-Morris
After months of council meetings and proposals, plans for Liverpool’s City Centre Bus Hub were approved on the 26th February.
As part of Liverpool City Council’s connectivity scheme, the Bus Hub will be one of many new schemes which aims to make Liverpool more attractive and easy to navigate.
In a Mersey Travel press release the City Council said: “The aim is to reduce traffic dominance on key streets, linked to improved pedestrian facilities and public realm.
“As well as better serving the needs of existing users, these proposals will enable the planned growth in visitors and in jobs in and around the City Centre.”
The approved site for the Bus Hub development is currently being used as a main city carpark just a short distance from attractive tourist hotspots like St George’s Hall and The Liverpool World Museum. Located in the grounds of a grade II listed building and World Heritage Site the demolition of this will affect accessibility to tourists, and in the process of the construction, more of the City’s mature trees will be cut down.
“Changing its use to a bus hub would be incongruous with it’s listed surroundings.”
To add to the controversy, the demolition of the car park will result in the removal of all of the disabled car parking spaces, members of the Merseyside Civic Society called this action destructive and inappropriate, they said: “In times of austerity and continual cuts and loss of services, how can tax payers afford this heavy loss?
“The car park is in a unique location, it is directly adjacent to, on top of and within the curtilage of a magnificent Grade II listed Queensway Tunnel entrance. Changing its use to a bus hub would be incongruous with it’s listed surroundings.”
Watch below: Summary of what the Bus Hub entails
The process of approval has come with waves of opposition, as many residents and independent business owners on Old Haymarket are outraged over the Council’s lack of consideration.
The controversy has brought affected members of the public together through the community group, Save Old Haymarket, highly supported by Councillor Nick Small.
Save Old Haymarket Public Meeting 7pm tonight at Lovelocks Coffee Shop – local residents, businesses or anyone who cares is welcome! pic.twitter.com/zGGSZnYwGJ
— Nick Small (@CllrNickSmall) July 31, 2018
Lots of talk about regenerating all of Liverpool in @lpoolcouncil ‘s budget meeting last night – but walk the walk @mayor_anderson – what will happen to the already regenerated area at Old Haymarket when you put 1,700 buses a day here? #saveoldhaymarket https://t.co/jiSyyf2Crd
— SaveOldHaymarket (@S_OldHaymarket) March 7, 2019
Sarah Lovelock, a member of the community group and owner of Lovelock’s Coffee shop has been opposing the plans since the first day of proposals in 2018.
“The council had an opportunity to make this a really beautiful space in the City but instead they have turned it into something of the complete opposite”
Watch Below: Sarah Lovelock’s ongoing fight to save her business from being destroyed by the Bus Hub
A family-run craft beer Bar, Dead Crafty, will also be directly affected. During the three years Dead Crafty has been open, the Dale Street end of the City has been completely regenerated.
We’re a destination beer bar, we get beer internationally, nationally and locally, people come from all over the world just to taste the beer. You can feel the sense of community here right in the middle of the City Centre”- Gareth Morgan
Owners Vicky and Gareth Morgan got inspiration for their quirky Beer Bar after travelling breweries in the US, it is one of the only bars in Liverpool City Centre to serve 20 taps.
Situated directly opposite the Magistrates Court on Dale street, the businesses has endured months of campaigns in an attempt to prevent the development. Vicky and Gareth are scared “vital light and atmosphere” will be drawn out of their bar.
“I didn’t know anything about the Council’s plans, as a business we were not contacted. We didn’t even receive a formal letter from the council” – Gareth Morgan
Watch Below: Gareth Morgan’s response to the controversial plans
Liverpool City Council’s transport chief James Noakes did not respond to my request for comment however in a press conference last month he acknowledged the risk.
He said: “We accept that this will have a major impact on the area around old Haymarket but we firmly believe it is necessary and will be hugely beneficial to the city as a whole.”
What’s Next for the community of Old Haymarket?
The community spirit and camaraderie between all businesses and residents in the area of Old Haymarket is widely felt.
“We’re going to take this fight as far as we can. We feel as a community that some of the council’s processes were not correct and so we are definitely going to look into that.”- Sarah Lovelock
If our Council believe that I am going to sit back and let them ruin our City, they clearly do not understand who we are & what we stand for.
I WILL FIGHT THIS DECISION@S_OldHaymarket
— Lawrence Kenwright (@LawKenwright) February 27, 2019</blockquote