As the government makes ready to allow the hospitality industry to reopen, the amazing; Liverpool Without Walls, project will see cafes and restaurants serve customers outdoors throughout the summer. Traffic through Castle Street and Bold Street in Liverpool’s city centre will be barred for the duration of the summer to allow customers to be served in the open air.
Liverpool’s City Council, BID Company and Chamber of Commerce have joined forces on the £450,000 project; Liverpool Without Walls with the specific aim of supporting the hospitality sector as the country emerges into the post-coronavirus world.
Consultation is currently taking place between businesses and transport providers to iron out the most appropriate timing for closures of the two popular streets. The project will also include pop-up parks, a grant scheme for business and free trading permits.
It looks all the more likely that the government will allow bars, restaurants, cafes, and hotels to re-open in early July together with a possible relaxing of the social distancing rule from two metres to just one, although that will still remain a challenge for many operators.
As well as phases of closure, Bold Street is to be the pilot for a new scheme of street furniture and ‘parklets’, these new seating and park areas, designed by urban architects Arup, will take over parking bays to transform the vision of the street and if successful, could be rolled out to other streets through the city.
The art/furniture installation will take place through early July with an additional seating rollout expected throughout the summer. Consultation has also taken place with some of the independent traders in the locale re: the designs and the changes.
Care has also been taken to make sure the alterations take accessibility into account and do not impact adversely on, for instance, wheelchair users.
Every independent restaurant in the city can apply now for a grant of up to £4,000 for them to buy furniture which will let them trade outdoors, with grant level determined by the number of additional seats each restaurant can create.
There is of course a limit to this fund and restaurants are advised to take the time to see if they are eligible for the support. The levy for a new street café licence, around £600, is to be waived for all new applications to make sure businesses don’t incur extra costs as they try to get back on their feet.
Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for culture and tourism, Cllr Wendy Simon, said, “This is a phased approach to the reopening of the hospitality sector and these changes will be made gradually as we work with businesses on what they need, and how we can support them in line with the latest Government safety guidance.”
The scheme’s funding was announced in May by Liverpool Mayor, Joe Anderson who redirected £450,000 of funds to consent to the programme being developed. The Council has so far distributed more than £90m of funding from central government to over 7,300 SMEs and those in the hospitality, retail, and leisure sectors.
Chief executive of Liverpool BID Company and chair of the Liverpool Visitor Economy Network, Bill Addy, added, “With road closures, parking bay suspensions, social distancing guidelines and ensuring accessibility, this is a very complicated piece of work, but I think this is the start of a revolution in how we use the city centre. I know lots of restaurants are desperate to open their doors and I wish we could help every single one of them in this first phase, but we need to be measured and realistic in our roll out so we can get this right and in turn support more and more businesses over the coming weeks.”
Click here to find out how you can apply for furniture or a street café licence.