Liverpool City Council has announced it is to shut part of Lime Street – a major artery into the city – after campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage won a legal bid to prevent immediate demolition of the street’s historic Futurist cinema
The council said it would shut part of Lime Street from 6am on Monday to 6am on Thursday next week while work took place to make the building’s facade safe.
Earlier this week, the Court of Appeal rejected, on safety grounds, the council’s bid to immediately demolish most of the 1912 building, which has lain empty since 1982 and was due to be knocked down under a planning permission for a redevelopment designed by Broadway Malyan.
A legal challenge to the overall permission – which proposes the removal of an entire terrace of historic buildings, including the Futurist – is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal in June.
Henrietta Billings, director at SAVE, said: ‘The ruling is an encouraging development. We came up with a viable alternative to demolition and a solution that would meet both public safety requirements and being able to retain the facade of the building.’
An original agreement between the campaign group and the council meant that the pediment on top of the building would be removed by hand, labelled and stored pending the outcome of the appeal. However, the council claimed that during these works it became clear that the whole facade was in danger of progressive collapse. It asked the court to consider an alternative plan to take the structure down to ground level without closing the road.
SAVE produced a report by conservation engineering firm Morton Partnership which suggested the facade could be clamped to the front of the building using two sets of scaffolding.
The judge accepted SAVE’s argument that the council’s proposal risked triggering a collapse of the whole facade and surrounding buildings, and found that no safety or risk assessment was submitted to support its proposed emergency works.
Announcing the four-day closure of Lime Street, council cabinet member for regeneration Malcolm Kennedy said: ‘We completely appreciate that this is going to cause a significant amount of disruption for motorists and bus passengers, but public safety has to be our priority and we have to comply with the conditions of the court.
‘This building has suffered more than 30 years of decay and neglect, and independent inspection after independent inspection has shown it to be in a dangerous state of repair.
‘We will be carrying out the work as quickly as we can, and have endeavoured to remove the minimum amount of facade possible needed to make it safe.”
The lead architect on the scheme, Matt Brook from Broadway Malyan, said of the plans: ‘There are three important buildings on the east side of Lime Street. Two are being retained and even its most ardent local supporters accept that the third – The Futurist – cannot be saved. We are fixing a broken street in a way that understands its urban function and conserves its essential personality.’
braodwy malyan Lime Street June 2015 design 2