HOYLAKE TOWN HALL: Major arts project moving forward in Wirral
A major project featuring a cinema and three food and drink outlets is moving forward, despite disruption caused by the pandemic.
The Beacon Arts Village, a plan to transform the old town hall in Hoylake, Wirral, has been delayed due to Covid-19, but it has not been scrapped.
The project follows a successful application for £3.6m of grant funding from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund, which is designed to help seaside towns flourish.
A spokesperson for the Beacon Arts Village said: “Work at the Beacon is continuing albeit very delayed by Covid-19. There are no changes to plans to have a two-screen cinema, three food and beverage outlets and 18 units for artists and makers.
“Despite what’s happened to the world in the last 12 months the food and beverage partners, Lucky Penny Consultants, are very much on board while talks with the cinema partner are now at an advanced stage.”
But Covid-19 has had an impact on the plan.
The spokesperson continued: “The pandemic has forced a rethink on the business modelling, however.
“The cinema will host a programme of highly anticipated feature film screenings and special events and will also be available for private hire and able to accommodate all types of requirements [such as] TED-type talks, live comedy and poetry, business and community presentations and similar [things].
“It means the Beacon remains well placed to make the most of any recovery from the pandemic with an even stronger offer when it is all over.”
It is understood that work is underway on another part of this plan, which will see around 40 apartments built at the site.
In addition to the plans at the Beacon, a spokesperson for Hoylake Vision Community Planning Forum, said more might be on the way, as a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) was being put together.
As part of this process, a ‘design code’ giving more details about ideas for Hoylake town centre, the beach and the promenade, as well as Carr Lane’s industrial and residential areas, will be published.
One proposal being developed is a remodelling of the victorian promenade to include a sustainable drainage system, which would help resolve drainage issues that affect the beach adjacent to the prom wall.
Under the plan, the road and pavement would become single level, creating what the spokesperson called a “people before cars” space for the future, including seating and planting areas, porous road and pathway surfaces.
As well as this, there would be marked cycle pathways, raised pedestrian crossings, electric vehicle charging points and all terrain wheelchair hire.
In March this year, local authorities across the UK received funding for 25 similar projects in
small coastal towns with an average project cost of £6m.
This means that despite the plans sounding ambitious, the spokesperson believes that by working with local people the planning forum can make them a reality.
In consultation with local people, an NDP will then be produced, followed by a public referendum.
Commenting on the progress of the Beacon, Cllr Janette Williamson, leader of Wirral Council, said: “Hoylake is a thriving hub of independent businesses, and it’s great to see how popular the local shops, bars and restaurants are.
“It is fantastic that the area will be getting a permanent cinema again, building on the work of the brilliant Hoylake Community Cinema, as well as space for our many talented artists, local traders and places for people to meet and socialise.”
The Labour leader added: “Supporting local businesses and building wealth in our communities across the borough is a key part of Labour’s work here, and through the pandemic, the Labour-led council has given £72.8m to small and medium-sized local businesses in covid support grants.
“The council has been recognised nationally for the speed and efficiency in administering this funding.
“In Wirral, and across the Liverpool City Region, we are working to encourage new independent businesses and help get existing ones back onto their feet as the economy opens up again.”
Hoylake’s three Conservative councillors were approached for comment, however they refused to provide a response.
Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter
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