Plans have been revealed that are set to support Southport’s return to the grandeur of Victorian England, when it was the country’s second most popular tourist destination.
The project, dubbed “Les Transformations de Southport”, looks at interconnectivity across the whole town centre, from improved pedestrian and cycling routes in the town centre and waterfront, to the creation of new public spaces for hosting events.
A key proposal of the Southport Town Deal submission included a bid for funding to facilitate the early phases of this project, which could deliver around 30,000sqm of new, accessible, well-connected high-quality public spaces, providing priority for walking and cycling in support of clean growth. The first phase would include a new civic events space on Lord Street, and public realm enhancements in areas adjacent to the key strategic projects identified within the Town Deal bid.
Cllr Marion Atkinson, Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, explained:
“While living in exile in Southport in 1838, Prince Louis Napoleon, later Emperor Napoleon III, was so inspired by the grandeur of Lord Street that he ordered Baron Haussmann to model the reconstruction of Paris on it. Les Transformations de Paris made the French capital the “Southport of the South”. Les Transformations de Southport will ensure we again fulfil the potential of our public realm spaces, on Lord Street and beyond.
“When we carried out our extensive consultation on the Southport Town Deal bid, the connection between Lord Street and the Promenade, the need for maintenance of existing infrastructure to create safe spaces accessible for all emerged strongly as priorities.”
The illumination of Lord Street, lighting within the landscape of the iconic town centre
Boulevard, will be a key feature of this exciting project, which aims to address connectivity and congestion issues between the seafront area, the town centre and the railway station, including elements of improved signage and wayfinding around the town.
The recently launched Southport Townscape Project (a partnership between the Council, Southport BID and the Heritage Lottery) recognises the links between Lord Street and the Promenade as an area of priority investment.
The hope is that this project will deliver significant improvements on key routes, providing an improved visitor experience on arrival and in the town centre, resulting in increased focus and footfall for the town centre.
Cllr Atkinson continued: “The town centre is dominated by north-south movements, particularly by vehicles, resulting in relatively poor (east-west) connectivity between the seafront area and the town centre and there are many competing demands for highway space which can be difficult to accommodate. The post Covid-19 decline in public transport use may also create additional pressure on the highway network to accommodate private vehicles.
“If we can address these issues, provide infrastructure which allows for more walking and cycling in the town centre, along with the associated health and well-being outcomes, it will provide an entirely different proposition for visitors, strengthening Southport’s vibrancy, attractiveness and accessibility, and enhancing visitor numbers.”