Liverpool Without Walls pilot scheme to help restaurants reimagine outdoor eating

Bold Street

Plans to help Liverpool’s hospitality sector emerge from lockdown have been revealed today (June 22).

It is part of the ‘Liverpool Without Walls’ project to re-imagine the city under social distancing, and a joint project between Liverpool City Council, Liverpool BID Company – which supports 1,500 city centre businesses – and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.

The scheme is aimed at giving businesses in Liverpool the best chance of being ready to trade as soon as restrictions on hospitality businesses are lifted by the Government.

Liverpool Without Walls is designed to provide support to help cafes and restaurants trade outside, a range of support is being deployed across the city.

Some of the details are:

  • Bold Street will be closed to traffic across the Summer and be the pilot for a new scheme of street furniture and ‘parklets’. Designed by internationally-acclaimed urban architects Arup, these new seating and park areas will take over existing parking bays to transform the look of the street and, if successful, could be rolled out to other streets across the city.
  • Castle Street will also be closed to traffic to maximise the space available for restaurants to spill out onto the streets. Consultation is taking place with businesses and transport providers to work out the most appropriate timing for closures.
  • All independent restaurants in the city can now apply for a grant of up to £4,000 for them to purchase furniture which will allow them to trade outside, with the level of grant depending on the number of additional seats each restaurant can create. There is a limit to this fund and restaurants are urged to take the time to see if they are eligible for the support.
  • The fee for a new street café licence – around £600 – is being waived for all new applications to ensure businesses don’t have extra costs as they aim to get back on their feet.
  • The furniture installation on Bold Street will be taking place throughout early July with the roll-out of additional seating expected throughout the Summer.

Consultation has taken place with some of the independent traders in the area about the designs and the changes.

Care will also be taken to make sure the changes take account of accessibility and do not adversely impact on, for example, wheelchair users.

The funding for the scheme was announced last month by Mayor Joe Anderson who redirected £450,000 of funds to allow the programme to be developed.

Liverpool City Council has so far distributed more than £90m of central government funding to in excess of 7,300 small businesses and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

The criteria to qualify for the programme is to help Liverpool’s restaurants and cafés re-open safely after lockdown and serve food outside. Small grants are being offered for outdoor furniture such as tables, chairs, planters, outdoor parasols, and outdoor heaters.

These grants are only for independent and small to medium-sized enterprises that pay business rates to Liverpool City Council and hold an existing street café licence or a free temporary street café licence.

In addition, businesses must already serve food at tables, hold public liability insurance that covers outdoor trading, and be below the de minimis state aid threshold level. Chains or multinational business groups cannot apply.

Businesses in Bold Street will be supported by a separate pilot scheme and need not apply for this grant or a temporary street café licence.

Businesses can apply for a grant now if they hold a street café licence or have submitted an application for a temporary street café licence and meet all the eligibility criteria in the guidance.

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.

“It is so good that we are starting to see positive steps forward for a sector that has been so hard hit by the crisis.

Proposals for ‘Liverpool Without Walls’

“We are always thinking of different ways we can use our city centre and neighbourhood high streets and it could be that these changes are in place for the long term, so we need to get it right.

“The furniture designs look great and it is so exciting that, in this moment of crisis, we are looking to make our city centre a better environment than it was before.”

Chief executive of Liverpool BID Company and chair of the Liverpool Visitor Economy Network (LVEN), Bill Addy, said: “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 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.”

Garry Banks, director of Arup, said: “The creative use of space on the streets of the city centre has never been more important.

“The development of a ‘kit of parts’ concept for parklets will provide high-quality and adaptable spaces that will enhance local character and sense of place, whilst also enabling businesses to operate safely.”