A Merseyside high street is trying to buck the trend of dying trade as it looks to improve even further over the next 12 months and beyond.
Lord Street in Southport has seen an influx in new businesses, as well as plans to bring new ventures onto the main street that runs through the town.
Last year saw independent businesses such as House of Ivy, The Old Bank and Royales introduce themselves to the town centre. This year looks to be no different with impending investment round the corner.
From new restaurants and hotels to funding being provided for key walkways and side streets, the town centre looks to only be improving.
The Tower Of Hope
The bold new plans brought to the table by Andrew Mikhail and his company would see a New York style skyscraper brought to Merseyside where the old Grand Casino site is now, preserving the Grade II listed building in the process.
At 48 stories high, the building is looking to bring 140 apartments, 109 five star hotel rooms, a restaurant, a bar, a wedding venue and a new car park to the town, all in one swoop.
Andrew Mikhail said: “I want this to be a true sign that we shouldn’t give up and that better things will come, I hope that people will look up, see the Tower of Hope and realise, that anything is possible. Sometimes taking a few steps back will actually move you ahead much further and faster.
“It allows you to reassess, clear your mind, and catch your breath for the big plans about to unfold for you. The plans for this landmark building incorporating The Grand Casino will connect the past, present and future of Southport together.
“My aim is to build phase one and the hotel then any profits proceeding from the sales of apartments will ALL go to a charity or charities of the local people’s choice.”
Plans for another hotel at the other end of Lord Street were revealed last year as well, with JD Wetherspoon expanding their Sir Henry Segrave branch into a hotel.
Sefton Council’s recent Hotel and Visitor Accommodation Study identified a need for a significantly increased supply of hotel bed spaces, particularly in Southport.
Work on the historic and iconic Pavillion Buildings site on the corner of Lord Street and Coronation Walk has already begun.
The hotel will home 28 en-suite bedrooms.
Garrick Theatre/ Mecca Bingo
The former site of Mecca Bingo at the Garrick Theatre was sold last year following the bingo company’s closure during the pandemic.
Despite it being three months since the theatre was sold, there is yet to be any news on the future of the building.
509-515 Lord Street
This landmark site proves important to the town due to it being the first major project backed by the Southport Townscape Heritage Project.
The backing will result in a historic building being improved with two new retail units and nine new apartments in a bid to attract people to live in the heart of the town.
The previously rundown building on the corner of Lord Street and Bold Street will also prove to be a key route from Lord Street to the new Marine Lake Events Centre.
Southport Townscape Heritage Project
Leading on from the first building of the project, the Southport Townscape Heritage Project is a five-year scheme.
The main aim is to target historic buildings on Lord Street, as well as other places throughout the town.
It aims to encourage owners to repair buildings in a way that retains their original character but also modernises them in a way that will bring them into the 21st Century.
The scheme is in the process of working with various owners of historic buildings assessing aspects such as heritage features, what they bring to the historic environment, location and costs.
Scarisbrick Avenue and Cambridge Arcade
Sefton Council has also taken into account that it is not just Lord Street in the town centre that needs targeting, it is also the streets and avenues that join it.
It was recently revealed that Scarisbrick Avenue will be the subject of a £1 million boost to improve the hub of the town’s nightlife.
The work included in the £1m budget includes new paving, enhanced street lighting, improved pedestrian crossings, environmental additions and improved CCTV and signage.
The work is planned to be completed in time for summer this year.
The linkage is home to some of Southport’s busiest late-night bars with Spenders, Avenue and Chop House on the stretch, as well as food venues such as Concept Food Bar, Hideaway and Dolphin Chippy.
Spender’s bar owners Paul and Chantelle Drewery said: “We’re very excited and it will make a huge difference to this very important part of the town!”
As well as the busy nighttime avenue, Cambridge Arcade will also see £400,000 spent on a new canopy after business owners compared the walkway as a “scene out of Final Destination” last year.
Southport town centre has also brought in the new year with the opening of five new restaurants – four of which are on Lord Street.
Southport has proven to be a hub for hospitality following the pandemic with bars and restaurants thriving in the town.
From the opening of the likes of House of Ivy and The Old Bank, Southport is increasing its number of eateries.
The new restaurants on Lord Street include Sapori Italian Restaurant and Bar; Casa Italia; Mae Thai and The Feather Blade Steakhouse, while Larkins Cafe Bar Eatery has opened on Bold Street.
Southport Town Hall
Building work has begun on the Southport Town Hall in an effort to make the site more energy efficient.
The work began with scaffolding going up at the start of COP26, as Sefton Council asked local residents, businesses and partners to make a pledge to reduce their carbon emissions.
The scaffolding and building work that passers-by can now see at Southport Town Hall, on Lord Street, is in relation to energy efficiency and insulation works which will be taking place over the next few months.
It is the result of Sefton Council’s successful £800,000 funding bid to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund.
The project will reduce heat loss and restore the building’s historic features.
A specialist heritage contractor is undertaking the work, ensuring that key historic features are maintained and protected.
The historic arcade that has seen a fall in footfall due to the pandemic is bouncing back.
The Victorian era arcade saw the reopening of Beales department store along with smaller independent businesses such as Remedy cafe and Naked Peak, an organic candle and body care shop.
Naked Peak opened with two shop units and is now expanding with the company taking on a third unit.
Owners of the arcade have also reportedly received further interest from other businesses about taking up units at the Grade II listed structure on Lord Street.
The Western Quarter
The Western Quarter of Lord Street is looking to follow in the footsteps of the nicknamed “NOrthern Quarter” of the town centre street.
The Northern Quarter has seen significant investment in recent years with the opening of Punch Tarmey’s and the Lord Street Hotel by Mikhail Hotel and Leisure Group as well as the recent opening of House of Ivy and Great Himalaya Nepalese Restaurant.
Now the Western Quarter is hoping to follow suit with the purchase of the Garrick Theatre and the opening of businesses such as Tik Taco and Royales.
As well as that, the new Wetherspoon hotel is set to bring further footfall to that end of Lord Street.
The Western Quarter is one to look out for in the coming months and years.