Tuesday, 19 August 2008

St Mary's Road is changing

St Mary's Road in Garston has been gradually, and I mean gradually, improving for a while now. Since the time I've lived in Garston there's been at least one new cafe, the Garston cultural village gallery (both of them) and a new nail bar. There's also been rennovation work on one building and the new flats by the junction. There's been investment in road surfaces and some pavement too (although this means little if the sustainable businesses are not there also).

Now there are more real signs of confidence - signs that the work put in (almost entirely behind the scenes) is beginning to pay off. A license application for a wine bar has been approved. And there is a planning application in for another restaurant/"Gastro Pub" at the junction with Church Road. Setting up anything in catering is a huge risk, and the individuals behind these two initatives wouldn't be attempting them if they didn't feel the prospects for success were there. Speaking personally I have felt for a while that there is a gap in the market in the Garston village area. There are pubs, and there are cafes, but there is no where to go and have a meal and a drink in the evening. if you want to do that you have to go along to Aigburth Road, or over to the retail park and Marriott Hotel.

Now it may be that both restaurants do not appear. But the fact that the initatives are being taken speaks volumes to me about an area which at last is being seen as having the prospects for success.


PM Swimmer said...

rubbish utter rubbish,

Paula the flats on the corner are monstrous, cheap tacky design which as far as I can tell haven't been finished and those that have are generally unoccupied. That this wasn't seen as an obvious risk is staggering! At the least the council should have pushed the developers to keep the hotel frontage as in the case of the Collegiate. The hotel though allowed to fall into a terrible state was an architectural land mark that told you, you had entered Garston, a separate and distinct village.

A row of Victorian shops has been knocked down towards the hotel end and is being replaced by something far too large for the street, which again work has stopped on. And no doubt the Victorian shops opposite Sommerfields will be knocked down and replaced by cheap shoddy boxes.

The character is being changed and development being put in place is a cheap veneer ,the quality of which means it will be in tatters in 5 - 10 years. I've worked on a hundred funding applications for this kind of things I've seen the plans and specs been in the discussions when developers and council officers have argued down the quality and know how poor quality some of this regeneration is.

Now I want a busy vibrant high street like everyone else, shops ,restaurants and pubs, but look around, can you think of any suburban centres with steel box and cheap cladding style buildings that actually work? Allerton, Lark Lane, Chorlton in Manchester work because the architecture in place complements the use, it sets people at ease and projects the feeling of community, vibrancy and bustle.
Steel and glass outside of city centre never work in this manner, particularly in our climate, dark skies and rain against this building type looks cold, uninviting and bleak. Failure to create an overall strategy that sets redevelopment within the existing architectural style creates at best a discordant feeling, at worst an inhuman new-town hell.

Paula, you're a politician you should be able to paint me a picture of your vision of Garston high street. Not just a vague wish for a restaurant but what the whole street would look and feel like! It can't be done piecemeal and ad-hoc whenever a developer can be engaged with a supplicant council, they will never care about the quality needed for the long term improvement. And it should factor in traffic movement, parking and pedestrians from the outset, suburban high streets need well thought out car access with free on street parking or very close parking but this has to be done in a manner that allows pedistrian ease of movement without risk of conflict with motorists.

I doubt you'll publish this, my last comment about your illiberal youth crime policy disappeared but I'd hope you might stop and consider what you want Garston to look and feel like.

I want to be positive about Garston high street and the necessary investment but I just don't feel that you, your colleagues or your officers have a plan or even a vision.

Anonymous said...

i was pleased as well to see that there is someone who wants to open a restaurant in The Queens (that is the pubs name). There is a notice on the lampost outside with some details - bt not many. does anyone know where i can fin dout more?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for mentioning the Garston Cultural Village Gallery. It is good to see this sort of thing in St Marys Road. I hope people from further away in Liverpool are able to come and see it for themselves. It is called the New Slaughterhouse.

Paul F

Paula Keaveney said...

Hello anonymous. You can look at plans at the council offices in town - you need the reference number which will be on the notice you have seen. Some of the neighbours will also have had letters. However before making a journey it might be easier to have a look at the Planning Explorer. You can find this on the c council website -www.liverpool.gov.uk. click on the find it button and then select planning explorer. In this section you can type in an address - say a street name - and see all the recent applications and what has happened to them. With the current ones you can also see which addresses have been written to as neighbours and who is being consulted. This might give you the info you are after without any extra journeys.