A garden of weeds and a road to nowhere
The Ukrainian meadow was meant to revitalise the ruined Churchill Way flyover. What went wrong?
Dear readers — Liverpool city centre has been in desperate need of some more green space, so the unveiling of the “Ukrainian meadow” on the former Churchill Way flyover site seemed to be the answer to many a city dweller’s prayers. Then again, perhaps not. In today’s edition, Abi digs into the wildflower garden planted behind the Liverpool World Museum, and why the meadow has left several residents hot under the collar.
But first, your Thursday briefing — including a scaled back Pall Mall development and the return of Liverpool’s super club.
Your Post briefing
Yesterday’s edition of the Post sent shockwaves through Liverpool’s cyclist and motorist communities, who went for each other’s throats in the comments section (by which we mean there was an interesting and civilised debate). The piece — by data man Daniel Timms — was an interview with Daniel Knowles, the author of a new book arguing that cities should urgently attempt to decrease their reliance on cars. It’s called Carmageddon, in case you wanted to buy it. “All this anti-car stuff is useful for is empowering local and national government to load more taxes onto us,” was the view of one commenter. “Getting fed up with this anti car reporting and fantasy world where everyone is supposed to want to cycle everywhere,” said another. Others stood side with Knowles though: “Great article. I moved away from Liverpool and it always strikes me just how badly car-centred the city is whenever I return…Wouldn’t it be great if they sorted out the joke of a bus system, made adjustments to make cycling safe and easy”. Do you have a view? Do get stuck into the comments section and keep the debate flowing.
New plans to relaunch Liverpool’s super club 051 have been drawn up. The popular 90s club closed down in 2016, and has since been the site of antisocial behaviour and two major fires. Now, a premise licence application has been put forward to the council. Lee Butler, who was a resident DJ at the nightclub, has been the one to set the plan in motion, saying on Twitter that it was “upsetting to see one of Liverpool's last standing real iconic nightclubs wasting away.” Not everyone is convinced by the plans for such a prominent city centre building though. “Is this a good idea? We've seen a few false dawns regarding this strange, but landmark nightclub and it's multi-storey car park over the years. Is the former 051's resurrection the answer, or would another space be more sensible and less costly?” tweeted Liverpolitan.
Nextom Property’s scaled back Pall Mall development is expected to secure planning consent next week. Plans for the development originally consisted of 550 apartments across two blocks which would be 10 and 17 stories tall. However, Liverpool City Council said there was “no need for a ‘district scale’ tall building in the location”, resulting in the development being scaled down to 435 apartments, 7 and 10 stories tall. The council has recommended that the new plans be approved, but residents have expressed their dissatisfaction with the scheme, claiming it will not be tall enough and the buildings will “appear dumpy and disjointed”.
By Abi Whistance
“Imagine that being on your doorstep,” John points up at the remains of a severed overpass, exposed iron and concrete covered in sprawling graffiti. “Just waking up every morning and seeing that.” I’m standing on Primrose Hill in Liverpool city centre, looking at the remains of the Churchill Way flyovers with John Hanlon. He’s lived in the city his whole life, and remembers the flyovers before they were ripped down four years ago.
The flyovers’ demolition was never quite finished, and now, derelict patches of land lie where the beams of one of Liverpool’s most identifiable transport links once stood, littered with empty cans and bricks. Apart from one area, that is, which Liverpool City Council announced would be miraculously transformed into a wildflower garden in February this year. “It was actually a nice idea,” John tells me, adding he was glad something was being done about one of the patches of land.
The wildflower garden was part of the city’s Eurovision initiative “Glitter Not Litter”, which saw the launch of several schemes to spruce up the city’s parks and green spaces before the international music festival in May. The garden would simultaneously act as a floral tribute to Ukraine — who were the official hosts of Eurovision 2023 but for obvious reasons had to abdicate — with blue and yellow flowers planted to match the country’s flag. Yet as I stand on Hunter Street across from what has been crowned the “Ukrainian meadow”, I see a smattering of flowers, spread alongside an amalgam of dusty soil and weeds. I’m left with one question: is this really the meadow?
Let’s rewind to where this all began. The Churchill Way flyovers were meant to be part of an inner ring road scheme that began construction in the 1960s. The flyovers — which included an elevated pedestrian walkway behind the World Museum — were supposed to divert traffic coming into Liverpool from Edge Lane and the East Lancs Road, relieving congestion in the city centre. However, the opening of the new Kingsway Tunnel in 1971 significantly reduced this traffic, rendering the ring road plan obsolete. The scheme was abandoned but the flyovers remained in use for many years after; the walkway acting as a useful crossing point for students to get to Liverpool John Moores University.
That was until 2018, when the discovery of multiple structural defects in the flyovers resulted in them being shut to the public — along with the walkway. At the time, the council said they were left with no choice but to tear them down, at a cost of £6.75 million. Hired to assist in the multi-million pound demolition job was Safety Support Consultants (SSC) — a company headed by the son of ex-mayor Joe Anderson, David Anderson. The move was controversial, and the commissioning of SSC was featured heavily in the infamous Caller report into council failings published in 2021. But don’t let me get sidetracked — that is a story for another day and I cannot get embroiled in another chaotic pinboard of connecting names and faces. Please.
This is a story about the flyovers, and a wildflower garden that was promised to residents.