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Nick Clegg announces scheme to fill Liverpool’s and Manchester’s iconic empty buildings

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has launched an ambitious project to use some of the North West’s best-known derelict buildings put back into use with the help of entrepreneurs and community groups.

Properties such as the Lyceum Post Office, Rope Walks ‘back’ streets and England and Martins Bank in Liverpool, and King Street, Cross Street and Deansgate in Manchester, have already been identified as ripe for ‘meanwhile’ use, according to Clegg, who has formed a working group to investigate how the buildings can be brought back to life and have a blueprint with potential private sponsorship in place by April 2015.

Clegg announced the scheme today during a visit to the Betahaus collaborative working space in Berlin and the idea was originally mooted by Liverpool-based landscape architect Elaine Cresswell at the Northern Futures summit in Leeds on 6 November.

Clegg says: Leaving useful land in the North to languish is not only bad for business, it can hamper the success of an area in so many ways. Which is why I want to see empty buildings brought back to life and back in business.

“We need to understand what stands in the way of some of the most incredible space in the country being used, and make things more flexible so that we can fill these buildings with artists, start-ups and other entrepreneurs to restore the buildings’ purpose and appeal.”

According to the government the North has nearly twice as many hectares of previously developed vacant land than the south, with 10,130 hectares compared to just 5,580 hectares.

Elaine Cresswell says: “For too long, derelict land, gap sites and unused buildings located at the heart of Northern city centres have been a wasted resource. They create a poor image to visitors, investors, businesses and potential residents, reducing the potential for future development. There are so many properties that can be used on a temporary basis for business, community or arts uses, whilst renewing the appeal of a neighbourhood and making it viable again.”

The working group is comprised of local government, businesses and charities and will present their findings to Clegg in January.

The identified sites include:

Liverpool

  • ABC Cinema
  • Lyceum Post Office
  • The Oratory
  • England and Martins Bank
  • Seamans Orphanage
  • Toxteth Reservoir
  • Rope Walks ‘Back’ streets

Manchester

  • King Street
  • Cross Street
  • Deansgate
  • Piccadilly Place/Moseley Street