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Public want ‘a reason to stay’ in Liverpool’s Williamson Square

Respondents to a consultation on the future of Liverpool’s Williamson Square say they “want a reason to stay” in the public space.

A report updating the council’s cabinet on the progress of a regeneration vision for the square has identified possible ways to maximise its potential.

According to the document, which will be discussed at the Cunard Building next Friday (21 December), Williamson Square has become more peripheral to the main retail area since the opening of Liverpool ONE in 2008 and the current retailers and leisure operators “don’t provide the type of activity to sustain a vibrant evening leisure scene”.

In February Liverpool City Council, in partnership with Liverpool Merseyside Theatres Trust (LMTT) and Liverpool City Centre Business Improvement District (BID), established a joint steering group to bring forward a vision to improve the square.

A number of actions have taken place since the inception of the project including public consultations and policy development.

The council and its partners appointed PLACED to carry out three public consultation events dedicated to Williamson Square earlier this year at the former George Henry Lee department store.

These events engaged with approximately 300 people, with a further 174 written and online surveys received.

The report says there is a need for the Playhouse theatre to better interact with Williamson Square.

The consultation exercise concluded that the square is seen by many as a “key location” with the potential to be improved.

Key opportunities to maximise the potential for the square were identified as follows:

  • Improving maintenance and cleanliness: A number of comments identified cleanliness and poor maintenance as having a negative impact on the square.
  • Developing an events programme and enabling pop-up events: Using the space for more frequent and diverse events should be a key priority.
  • Introducing more greenery: Many participants want to see more greenery in the square.
  • Making the space playful: Williamson Square was considered to have significant potential as a place for play and be playful, not just confined to children. People wanted to able to interact with the space in new and different ways.
  • Enabling people to linger longer: One of most significant comments to come from the consultation was that the square is not a destination but a route to somewhere else.
  • Many people commented that they wanted more activity and a reason to stay in the square.
  • Creating a ‘European style square’ was a prevalent response to the online survey.

A decision will now be taken on how to proceed with a regeneration strategy for Williamson Square and the identification of the resources required to facilitate this.

The partners have met with the Heritage Lottery Fund and LMTT will lead in preparing a Resilient Heritage Bid for up to £100,000 towards revitalising the Playhouse theatre as part of a wider regeneration strategy.

A further report to cabinet will then be produced seeking endorsement for this approach, any financial implications and any successful grant applications.