What next for our High Street?

What next for our High Street?

We are so lucky in Wavertree to have a High Street that is so full of history and heritage. Of course we are biased, but with our Town Hall, the Old Police Station, one of England’s smallest houses, a listed phone-box, our Rose Garden and Liverpool’s oldest original (Georgian, bow-windowed) shop front, we think it is one of the best concentrations of local built heritage in the city – if not the country!

Like many High Streets, ours is one of the main focal points for our community – and like many High Streets, it has suffered of late from a lack of footfall, some neglect to the buildings and public realm and a few voids appearing here and there. That said, we are also lucky in Wavertree that most of our shops are occupied and are trading businesses! And as we proved emphatically with our Car Free Day celebration – when we had 5,000 people on the High Street – people will come if they are invited. “If you build it they will come”!

Liverpool’s oldest surviving shop front

Communities and businesses everywhere have been impacted by COVID19 and by the associated lockdown. It has been hard for everyone to maintain a closeness of community while observing social distance. One phenomena that we hope continues into the future is the rise in people shopping with independent shops and cafes, many of which have adapted to the necessities of our current situation by introducing online delivery services. Forecasts predict that local shopping districts post-lockdown will see a rise in local goods, community services and ‘mutual aid’, and a renewed interest and appetite for shopping locally. We hope this will be good news for our High Street.

We are keen to gather our community’s thoughts and ideas for what would improve our High Street and what shops and services local people would like to see. One of the problems we have identified is vastly differing opening times, affecting shared footfall and leaving people unsure as to what time different shops and services are available. Another problem is that people are also unsure what our shops sell! We are planning to work with our shops and businesses to create a ‘Virtual High Street’ on this site as a guide, which should help on both counts as well as building their profile. A number of our local businesses have been with us for many years, and we hope we that can support them to navigate these strange and challenging times.

Bakery, Fruit & Veg, Chemist, Pub, Launderette – the High Street, 1978

We have started to see some positive signs, with both the Town Hall and new events venue Liverpool Hall (the former Chillie’s) coming under new ownership in recent months, and both buildings being spruced up for opening. Both were due to open for business in Spring, but have been delayed due to COVID19. With works ongoing, we hope and expect that they will open later in the year.

We have heard a lot about ‘Business Improvement Districts’, but think that our shops and businesses are an integral part of our community, which itself is so much more than just our businesses – so would prefer to see our High Street as a ‘Community Improvement District’. Love Wavertree is committed to a positive future for Wavertree as a happy, healthy area and we see our High Street as a critical part of that.

We hope that we can bring our community together ‘in real life’ in the not too distant future to share thoughts and ideas – but, for now, please let us know you think in the comments below and/or send us an email at lovewavertree@gmail.com

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