Exciting images have been released of how a Merseyside town’s landmark shopping centre could look in the future as part of major regeneration plans.
Sefton Council has released images showing how the Bootle New Strand shopping centre could look as plans continue to progress, with the authority having acquired adjacent sites and begun soft market testing.
It’s the first step in realising the council’s long-term aspirations for the “forgotten” centre, which has faced difficulty over the years, including losing £5m in value after being bought.
The council said Bootle has been one of the UK towns hardest-hit by Covid-19, so it is reviewing a range of short-term, cost effective “meanwhile” uses for the site while the long-term plans are being considered.
The new images show how with demotions of canal-side buildings, there will be a “strong emphasis” on food and beverage offers in that location, while the long-term plans are being worked through.
Cllr Ian Maher, leader of Sefton Council, said: “Sefton Council has big ambitions for the future of The Strand and Bootle Town Centre. They remain central to the area’s regeneration and this is an opportunity to explore other uses for them.
“We want to transform the space so that it is be more open and integrated with the surrounding community. It will be a beautiful public space hosting a wide range of uses and facilities, including retail but also food and drink and leisure opportunities.
“We will also evaluate a number of other potential uses to ensure long-term economic, social and environmental sustainability of the centre.
“In particular, we have an ambition to link The Strand to the canal, which can provide not only an attractive environment and space for leisure, but also ‘a green transport corridor’, for walking, cycling and travel by water.
“This would link The Strand with other parts of the borough and beyond, including the proposed new Everton football stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.”
The council said that introducing “meanwhile” measures will mean decommissioning certain areas of the centre, which may contribute to a reduction in rental income, but that it would work through the financial impact.
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A council statement added: “The Strand, together with all shopping centres in the Borough, will be no different in experiencing financial challenges over the coming months and years.
“Now more than ever, exciting plans such as these to transform a much loved and valued local asset have never been more important.
“As part of the long-term vision for The Strand and Bootle Town Centre, Sefton Council plans to carry out widespread consultation with local residents and partners, including a “Festival of Ideas” in September 2020.
“The input and perspectives of the public will be key to the success of the centre in the future.”