Road closures, pop up parks, a business grant scheme and free trading permits for businesses are part of the project, which is being co-ordinated by 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 trading are lifted by the Government and will provide support to help cafes and restaurants trade outside.
Schemes include closing popular restaurant destination Bold Street to traffic across the summer and the introduction of street furniture and ‘parklets’, which will turn existing parking bays into dining areas. If successful, this model could be rolled out to other streets across the city.
The city’s Castle Street will also be closed to traffic to maximise the space available for restaurants to spill out onto the streets with consultation currently taking place with businesses and transport providers to work out the most appropriate timing for closures.
In addition, all independent restaurants in the city will be able to apply for a grant of up to £4,000 (the minimum award is £1,000) to help them purchase furniture that will allow them to trade outside, with the level of grant depending on the number of additional seats each restaurant can create. Grants are only for independent and small to medium-sized businesses that pay business rates to Liverpool City Council and hold an existing street café licence or a free temporary street café licence.
The fee for a new street café licence – around £600 – is also being waived for all new applications to ensure businesses don’t have extra costs as they aim to get back on their feet.
Funding for the scheme was announced last month by Mayor Joe Anderson who redirected £450,000 of funds to allow the program to be developed. Liverpool City Council has so far distributed more than £90m of central government funding to over 7,300 small businesses and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
“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,” says Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company.
“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.”