ON Tuesday, 22
April 2008, there was a special invitation to the press and media to
a 'hard hat tour' of the Liverpool Big Dig in Liverpool ONE. Among
those invited with us were David Coates of the Lancashire Evening
Post, Sean Woods from Century fm and Darien. We met in the complex's
office in Lord Street, where Rita Rowe, their Managing Director,
introduced us to our guides and to the tour itinerary. We were shown
on the excellent model, the extent of the Big Dig, and were told
about what has been completed so far, like the BBC studios and Blue
Coat Chambers; both of which are now open and fully functioning. We
were told about the planned future expansion and that the very large
area from Lord Street to Hanover Street to the Strand will open in
five week's time. We then learnt that was the area we about to tour.
Having collected our
safety clothing and wellington boots, we began the tour by walking
out of the back door into Paradise Street. It was difficult to
believe that, in such a short time, the buildings would be
functioning, along with the roads, which follow their historic
routes. Because of the construction work going on with its resultant
building debris, the target date for opening seemed remote, but in
actual fact it will be functioning fairly soon.
As we progressed
through the gigantic 3 story Arcade, we learnt that not only were
there shops in the whole development, but
mixed in among them were apartments. At the end of Paradise Street
we saw the John Lewis Shop, which, we were told, is
possibly the largest store outside London, with 245sq ft of floor
space. At the other end of that street, is a similar sized
flagship store, housing Debenhams. We saw through the windows that
the shop furniture was in place and were told by our
guide, Donna Hewitt, their Marketing Director, that the staff have
now started their training in the store.
As we progressed
along Hanover Street, our guide pointed out to us how each building,
whether housing apartments, shops or offices were different in
design. We also discovered that, wherever it was possible, frontages
at least, of buildings with some form of history were retained,
while in some cases, where the frontage or interior was too weak or
damaged, it was replicated as accurately as possible. This blending
of modern and past styles of architecture makes the whole area very
exciting to behold. The buildings along all of the roads and alleys
follow that creed.
When we arrived in
the Chavasse Park area, opposite the Police Headquarters and next to
the new Canning Place bus terminus, we saw the new, very large
Hilton Hotel, which is scheduled to open in January 2009. We were,
by now, standing on top of an enormous underground car park, which
vehicles will enter from The Strand and with pedestrian exits to the
Liverpool 1 area. Overlooking this magnificently redeveloped park is
a unique mix of at least 20 bars, restaurants and cafes, with views
of Mann Island and on the otherside, the two Cathedrals.
We descended into some cellars, and onto a downward sloping passage,
which ended in a large underground excavation with a downward
sloping, narrow, wooden and rope bridge. Then we saw it, the
surprisingly well preserved brick wall of the world's first gated
harbour built for maritime trade in Liverpool. Our guide told us
that they had found the remains of the harbour dock gates. They had
traced the line of the wall to make sure that it will be preserved.
They had also ensured that no foundations touched it. This will be
connected to the new museum, so that people will be able to see the
wall in the near future.
Having returned to the daylight, we went to have a look at the new,
14 screen Odeon Cinema, and onward through the raised 5 acre
Chavasse Park, through its shrub and tree beds to sea level, where
there are several ponds, depicting the first Liverpool harbour and
tide changes. In the paving there are carvings about the moon, tides
and a memorial to the designer of the first Liverpool harbour.
So here are some facts about this 1.6 million square feet (43 acres)
of shopping and leisure area linked to the historic waterfront in
the heart of the City of Liverpool:-
160 new stores; over 4,000 parking places, a 14 screen Odeon Cinema,
a 5 acre park, 2 hotels, 36 individual buildings, a major new bus
station, plus a mix of over 600 new apartments.
Another interesting fact is that at least 25 architects are involved
in the designing of this gigantic development.
Liverpool is changing its landscape and shaping its future. Phase 1
opening on May 29 2008 and Phase 2 opens on 30 September 2008! When
fully opened, Liverpool ONE will surely be the place to live in,
work in and enjoy.
More information can
be found online at the Liverpool ONE
See our Liverpool
ONE building site video on the page 3 of this report...
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