K2 Architects and Avison Young’s vision for the repurposing of The Strand unlocks £20m central government funding
On Thursday 16th March the government announced that £58 million will be invested in three new Levelling Up capital projects in the North West of England, including the transformation of Bootle Strand. K2 Architects and Avison Young, the firms behind the regeneration vision, are now working with Sefton Council to take their plans and designs forward and make them a reality.
Mark Davies, Architect Director at K2, says: “This last-minute allocation of funds indicates to me that perhaps this time Government are really understanding what impact Levelling Up and devolution actually means to people’s lives and place. It’s not a set model that fits all: it is about having ambition and a deliverable vision that does not gentrify, but really understands the needs of a community and what works or doesn’t.”
Stephen Cowperthwaite, Managing Director, Liverpool at Avison Young, adds: “This project is set to be an exemplar of regeneration in an area that is one of the most deprived in the country. We have been working with the team at Sefton Council for a number of years on this project, collaboratively shaping the narrative alongside K2 Architects, so it’s fantastic to see the hard work and our combined vision coming to fruition, to transform this vital space and create a vibrant place for the people of Bootle.
“This landmark project will be an important catalyst for much-needed regeneration not only of the town centre but also South Sefton and North Liverpool for the benefit of our communities.”
Christian Rogers, Deputy Director of Place at Sefton Council says: “Despite not being included in the list of successful bids for the second round of Levelling Up funding, the government has recognised the quality of the project and the impact it will make in one of the most deprived areas of the country. As a result, it awarded a grant for the full amount of £20m for the transformation of Bootle Strand.”
Mark Davies, Architect Director at K2, continues: “Sefton Council put out a private sector call to arms to five firms to look at the asset, put together a business plan and a vision. Together with Avison Young, we won that piece back in September 2021. K2 was chosen based on our credentials designing Liverpool ONE and the Metquarter, both of which went from low to fully let retail space.
“The Strand has a proud history: it was a pioneering building in the 1960s by virtue of being one of the first true malls in the UK. However, in recent years it had lost its way, with two-thirds of its commercial and retail space vacant, as a result of the changing consumer habits impacting the high street and the general hollowing out of the commercial district in Bootle and the departure of the public sector.
At its confluence between the suburban beach culture of the north of the city and the connectivity and access to industry, education and culture in the centre and south, there was an opportunity to create something that really put the needs of the community at the heart of the regeneration.
Mark Davies, Architect Director at K2, continues: “The people of Bootle are a proud, tight-knit group who know what is best for them: they certainly don’t want a glass skyscraper in their midst. Using our ‘Community Vox Pop’ design approach, we interviewed local community groups and organisations that have been in the Strand for many decades and represent the voice and ears of the local people, to find out what it meant to them. As a result, we came up with a vision that brings in new facets and uses such as a community college digital hub, a health hub and beehives to create an open, outward-looking environment with an emphasis on connection and community.
“We believe that we have come up with a genuine win in partnership with the people of Bootle that is going to turn this place around and create enduring social value.”
Stephen Cowperthwaite concludes: “This funding is going to make a huge difference for the people of Bootle – both from an economic and well-being perspective. As we move forward with this transformational project together with K2 Architects and Sefton Council, we look forward to seeing the impact this transformative project will have on the local community, showing what really is possible for places up and down the country.”