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Screen and screen again

St John's wraparound could stay forever - but is it the answer?

Written by . Published on October 5th 2012.

Screen and screen again

It was built as a temporary measure in the run up to Capital of Culture in 2008 to hide the “ugly” Lime Street face of St John's Centre. 

Now the owners of the centre say they want the screen and surrounding shroud to be there forever. 

'To the rear of the existing screen, the structures are extremely unsightly'

Next Tuesday the temporary permission granted by councillors in October 2007 for the Lime Street big screen runs out. 

And the council’s planning committee is being recommended by officials to allow a better, replacement screen to remain, and a new fabric wrap-around. 

Instead of the permanent planning permission being sought, planning officers are again saying it should be for a five years, renewable after that. 

It raises the question of whether a proper architectural solution to the “extremely unsightly” centre will ever be found. 

The previous owners of the shopping centre, Land Securities, won that temporary permission in Culture year so the company could sit down with planners to work out a permanent solution to that side of the centre, overlooking part of the World Heritage Site. 

It had been expected a proper facelift would be devised before the temporary permission expired.

The council’s planning manager says the key issue for Tuesday’s meeting is whether the retention of the media in that location is acceptable in terms of “visual amenity and highway safety” in what is a key gateway site into the city. 

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The officer’s report to politicians states: "After St George’s Hall, this is one of the first views of the city people have when leaving Lime Street Station. To the rear of the existing screen, the structures are extremely unsightly and had previously detracted from people’s first impressions of the city. There has long been an ambition to visually improve this prominent site."

Leading up to Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture year in 2008 and at a time when the then owners, Land Securities, were considering comprehensive refurbishment works to the centre, officers met with them to discuss their long term aspirations to develop the site to provide a permanent and high quality design solution. 

In the short term to improve the visual appearance, particularly during 2008, Land Securities secured a temporary five year consent for the screen wall." That consent requires all the structures associated with the wall and screen to be removed after October 9. 

The new owners of the centre, InfraRed, want consent to retain a media wall but with a replacement screen and fabric wrap-around. The owners say given the level of investment being committed to the improvement of the wall they are now seeking a permanent consent. It seems the Lime Street shroud will still be there in 2017 and perhaps even longer.

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 5th 2012.

Well it wouldn't be Liverpool's World Heritage Site if the council didn't chuck in a few eyesores (like this monstrosity) to show Unesco who's boss. That wraparound looks so cheap, tatty and very Paddy Market-ish. Liverpool a cultural city, don't make me laugh.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jd MoranOctober 5th 2012.

Interesting that you define culture by what cladding a shopping centre chooses to surround itself in.

Absinthe & TurksOctober 5th 2012.

What is the content? It's always flashing and distracting when I drive past but it just looks like a load of crappy adverts.

It's like that BBC Big Screen in Eliot/Parker Street. No-one actually watches what is on it, it's like some particularly rubbish commercial digital channel off Sky that no-one would have in their favourites.

They ought to show classic local films on it such as 'The Magnet' and the audience could sit on the new terracing outside Lime Street Station. Or big events like Proms concerts.

AnonymousOctober 5th 2012.

Another Magnet fan? Love it, so evocative and of its time!

Arthur RisqueOctober 6th 2012.

It's a right bleedin'eyesore that. If they have to keep it, why can't de stick a few blueys on after midnight for all the lads tha ravvent copped off?

Paul WardOctober 7th 2012.

"a permanent and high quality design solution. "

From Land Securities? Good luck with that.

Absinthe & TurksOctober 7th 2012.

As a screen it is bigger than anything London has when I last looked, so why can't it be used for cultural events like showing classic films? Or exhibiting video art during the Biennial?

It's the sort of thing they'd do in Manchester without question

AnonymousNovember 9th 2012.

What a pity they destroyed the beautiful buildings that were there. I remember the indoor market when I was a child. We should look after our old buildings, they are part of who we are.

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