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Issue Date:- 28 April 2008

Liverpool ONE

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 website.

See our Liverpool ONE building site video on the page 3 of this report...

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