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Issue:- 24 November  2011

National praise for Ropewalks

LIVERPOOL'S work to breathe new life into the historic Ropewalks area of the city has won national praise.  The Creative Ropewalks project, which has helped transform the neglected, 18th century harbour suburb into a fashionable, creative and attractive quarter has received a commendation at the prestigious Georgian Group Architectural Awards.  Liverpool grouped several building restorations projects into one entry for the awards. Together they saw the city shortlisted in the "Restoring a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting" category. The projects were:-

94 to 98 Seel Street - restoration of front fade of 3 Georgian houses

100 to 104 Seel Street - restoration of front fade roof and rear fade of 3 Georgian houses

45 Seel Street - complete restoration of 1 vacant and derelict Georgian terraced house to create 2 floors of offices and 2 self-contained flats

47 Seel Street - complete restoration of 1 derelict Georgian terraced house to create 4 floors of offices

79 to 85 Seel Street - restoration of exterior elevations. Repairs have stabilised building until viable use can be found.

75 to 77 Bold Street - Refurbishment of fde and new roof. Structural repairs to stop collapse of outriggers. New shopfronts.

Liverpool's application for the award highlighted the programme of enforcement action undertaken by the city council in recent years. Supported by £1.5 million in North West Development Agency funding, the programme has seen owners instructed to tidy land and buildings, and the issue of urgent works notices to ensure owners carry out essential repairs to preserve buildings.

The "Stop the Rot" media campaign, to shame owners into repairing buildings, and its success in bringing neglected buildings back into use, was also highlighted.  The judging panel included architectural historians Dr John Martin Robinson, Professor David Watkin and Emeritus Professor John Wilton-Ely; and architecture critic Jonathan Glancey.  They praised Liverpool for its effective, co-ordinated grant and enforcement action to rescue and restore disused and derelict Georgian properties in the Ropewalks area, highlighting the positive impact of the external restoration of several buildings at risk on the "notoriously derelict Georgian street."

Liverpool City council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said:- "A huge amount of work, from a range of partners, has gone into making Ropewalks the place it is today, so I'm naturally delighted that this work has received national recognition.  The transformation of the Ropewalks area has been one of the great success stories of Liverpool in the last decade. It is now an area with enormous energy, creativity and diversity, with a great mix of historic buildings providing a backdrop for the area's vibrant, contemporary and alternative feel. This praise from the Georgian Group is well deserved and I'm particularly pleased that the effective enforcement work we have undertaken to bring buildings back into use has been highlighted by the judges. Much has been achieved in the past decade, but there is still so much potential to be unleashed. We will continue to work together to promote Ropewalks as a distinctive, well-managed, clean and environmentally friendly area."

Liverpool's Ropewalks area was first developed as a harbour suburb, after the world's first commercial wet dock in 1715. After the First World War, the closure of the South Docks resulted in the slow decline of the area, leaving many vacant buildings which gradually fell into dereliction.  Over the last 10 years, a high quality regeneration programme has seen the development of many creative industries within Ropewalks, as well as a number of high profile schemes, new public spaces and improved pubic realm. The area, which is also a major retail and leisure quarter also pioneered the revival of city centre living and has seen many success stories including the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, East Village, base2stay Hotel, the Tea Factory and Vanilla Factory in the quarter.  It includes a large inner city conservation area containing many listed buildings, with part of this in the city's World Heritage Site. Many of the once neglected Georgian terraces have been restored using Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) funding and are now home to thriving businesses or new residents.

The Georgian Group Architectural Awards recognise exemplary conservation and restoration projects in the UK and reward those who have shown the vision and commitment to restore Georgian buildings and landscapes. Awards are also given for high-quality new buildings in Georgian contexts and new architecture in the Classical tradition. 

The 2011 awards received a record 80 entries. Only 1 in 4 applications to the awards receive any sort of recognition, so Liverpool's commendation is a massive thumbs-up from national experts.  Most of the contributing projects included in Liverpool's award entry were helped by Townscape Heritage Initiative grants and Heritage Lottery Funding; while one was encouraged by enforcement action underwritten by Creative Ropewalks.

£16.8m tax boost from HMRC-funded voluntary sector work

GRANTS to voluntary and community sector organisations that help people with taxes, benefits and tax credits led to additional tax of £16.8m being declared last year, up 68% on the previous year. The HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) scheme also led to the take-up of an extra £48.7m in tax credits, benefits and tax repayments, up 70% on the previous year. In addition, 4,000 volunteers were trained to assist with tax and benefits issues. This should ensure that an additional 200,000 people per year get help and advice on HMRC-related issues. Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said:- "HMRC’s grant funding goes to organisations providing independent, trustworthy advice for vulnerable people and those on low incomes, to help them with their entitlements and tax affairs. I am pleased that HMRC is able to support taxpayers who need assistance in this way by using voluntary and community sector organisations."

Liverpool & Manchester linked to Lakes for electric cars

ELECTRIC car drivers can now travel from the Lake District to Liverpool and Manchester without fear of running out of power after Ecotricity opened 2 new charging points on the M6 at Charnock Richards services; as part of the world’s first national charging network.

The Electric Highway now has charging points at 10 Welcome Break motorway services around the country on the M6, M40, M1, M5, M4 and M25... All powered by the wind and solar farms of green energy company Ecotricity.

This breakthrough in electric vehicle infrastructure removes one of the main barriers for people wanting to buy electric cars; so called:- ‘range anxiety’.  With people afraid to leave their home town or city and drive on the motorway for fear of running out of power, help is at hand...   10 motorway ‘top-up zones’ have now been installed at Welcome Break motorway services, including:-

Charnock Richard Services – M6 north between Liverpool and the Lake District

Charnock Richard services – M6 south between the Lake District and Liverpool

Sedgemoor Services – M5 north between Exeter and Bristol

Hopwood Park Services – M42 east and west between M5 and M40 near Birmingham

Membury services – M4 east between Bristol and London

Membury services – M4 west between London and Bristol

South Mimms services – M25 and M1 junction – north of London

Michaelwood services – M5 north between Bristol and Birmingham

Michaelwood services – M5 south between Birmingham and Bristol

Oxford services – M40 north & south between London and Birmingham

An 11th ‘top-up zone’ is also located at the base of an Ecotricity windmill:

Green Park windmill – M4 east & west near Reading

14 ‘top-up-zones’ in total will soon be located at motorway services around the country to complete the first phase of the network. Each post will be located outside the main entrance of Welcome Break, with 2 sockets that can be accessed by registering for a free swipe-card.

Within 18 months, all 27 Welcome Break motorway services across Britain will have charging points.  Electric cars using rapid recharge points (32Amp with 7-pin socket) can top-up in around 20 minutes or fully charge in 2 hours; while those using the slower (13Amp supply) will be able to recharge fully if staying overnight at the motorway services hotel.

Dale Vince OBE, founder of Ecotricity, said:- "People have asked why we are building this Electric Highway when there are only about 2,000 electric cars on the road today. In fact that’s a big part of the reason; a lack of demand.   It’s often said that one of the reasons more people don't buy electric cars is because of a lack of charging facilities; while the reason more charging facilities aren’t built is because not enough people are buying electric cars; classic chicken and egg stuff. We’re hoping to break that impasse.  We’re creating the infrastructure to get Britain’s electric car revolution moving."

With world oil prices going through the roof, you’ll now be able to get around Britain using only the power of the wind. It costs just over 1p a mile for electric vehicles, compared to 15p in a petrol car (at today’s prices).  The UK consumes around 23 million tonnes of oil every year in the UK to do the 250 billion miles we drive every year. But we could power all that with 12,000 of today’s windmills, or just 6,000 of tomorrow’s.

A driver doing a year’s typical 8,500miles of motoring could save almost £1,000 in petrol costs at today’s prices, and save around 2,000kg in CO2 emissions.  Electric car owners who want to register for a free swipe card can visit Ecotricity’s website.

2011 has been dubbed ‘The Year of the Electric Car’, with major manufacturers launching all-electric mass-market models including the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi MIEV and Peugeot iOn. Ford will also launch an all-electric version of its Ford Focus.

UK motoring facts

Over 30 million cars on UK roads
We drive 250 billion miles in the UK each year
99.6% of all car journeys are less than 100 miles
UK electric motoring facts

There are currently around 2,000 pure electric vehicles in the UK; on top of that there are a few hundred plug-in electric hybrids. There are around 30,000 petrol hybrids that have a battery fitted, but these batteries cannot be plugged into a socket, their charge either comes from the petrol engine or from energy stored during braking.

There are around 400 charging points in cities around the UK, with a concentration of around 250 in London which belong to a number of networks.  The Department for Transport predict that by 2015 they:- "expect to see tens of thousands of plug-in vehicles on the roads in the UK."

Most car charging would happen overnight, when grid demand is traditionally lowest so may not need a corresponding 16% increase in capacity.  A electric car can typically do 4,200 miles on one MWh of electricity.  The UK would need an additional 59TWh of electricity to power those journeys.  That is equal to the output from 12,000 wind turbines (assuming their current design).  This would save 71 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.  With a total UK grid demand of 383TWh (in 2010) that means a 16% increase in output.

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