Work to transform the Market Quarter area of Southport to attract more businesses and shoppers is due to start later this year.
The £2.5 million scheme is the first phase of the ambitious Les Transformations de Southport project.
It is due to be carried out by Balfour Beatty and will involve the pedestrianisation of Market Street, while widening the pavements on King Street to make it one-way.
A report by Sefton Council said: “The main aim is to provide more public space and restrict traffic, so that more people can enjoy the market and its surroundings, creating opportunities for new and existing businesses to develop and expand in that area.”
Les Transformations de Southport is one of the major schemes of Southport Town Deal, which is currently supporting the construction of the new £73 million Marine Lake Events Centre on the site of the former Southport Theatre.
Work is also due to take place soon to improve Chapel Street and Eastbank Street.
The improvement to the public realm in the Market Quarter follows Sefton Council’s £1.4 million conversion of Southport Market two years ago into a vibrant new food, drink and events venue.
The investment in the market has led to the opening of a number of new independent local businesses nearby including Season Coffee, Bar and Kitchen; Southport Market Blinds; Eva’s Sewing Room; The Cake Box; The Plant Room and more.
The work to improve roads around the market aims to attract more new businesses to the area and make it a more pleasant environment for visitors.
In the report, Sefton Council’s Assistant Director Highways and Public Protection said:
“The council has received funding from the Southport Town Deal to deliver a number of projects in Southport.
“These include improvements to the Public Realm under the title of Les Transformations.
“A scheme has been developed which is centred around Southport Market.
“There is some pressure to demonstrate progress and maximise spend before March 2024 of the Town Deal funds targeted for expenditure in 2023/24 and to substantially complete the improvement works prior to the busier summer season in 2024.
“Early contractor Involvement has the advantage of ensuring that the works are well programmed, buildability of the scheme is considered at an early stage and that the period between completing the design (and agreeing a contract cost) and the works commencing will be reduced. This should ensure that greater cost certainty is achieved, construction risks are reduced and the works are more likely to be completed in advance of the summer season in 2024.
“Following the successful submission of Southport’s Town Investment Plan (TIP), under the government’s Town Deal funding programme, Southport was allocated £37.5m for a range of projects. A Business Case was then developed to provide some detail of the projects and this was approved.
“One of the projects included in the Business Case was Les Transformations de Southport.
“The provision of infrastructure to underpin economic growth was one of the three themes of the Town Investment Plan for Southport and this project provides the transport and public realm infrastructure needed to support the ambition of the Town Fund and the changing patterns of travel demand and movement around the town.
“The overall project is expected to cost approximately £12.75m and £2.5m of funding has been allocated from the Town Deal to enable the delivery of the first phase of the project.
“The first phase focuses on the changes to Market Street, King Street, Eastbank Street and Chapel Street.
“The main aim is to provide more public space and restrict traffic, so that more people can enjoy the market and its surroundings, creating opportunities for new and existing businesses to develop and expand in that area.
“These proposals were included in the public consultation carried out in February / March 2022 and were generally well supported by people responding to the consultation.
“The scheme creates a traffic free section on Market Street alongside the market, providing a new street environment that will provide additional space for pedestrians.
“This will require converting the existing carriageway to a new paved surface that will provide level access for pedestrians across the full width of the street but which can still be used for service and delivery vehicles at certain times.
“The preliminary design of the scheme has been completed, some further investigation work undertaken and some details provided of the materials to be adopted which have then been shared with officers representing conservation, highway maintenance, cleansing and tourism. Comments have been reviewed and the detailed design process has commenced.
“An aspiration target programme has been identified with works commencing in late 2023. A more detailed programme will be agreed with input from WSP, as the Technical Transport services supplier and with input from the contractor.
“It should be noted that works have also commenced on reviewing the potential changes to the highway within Southport town centre which will help improve accessibility and provide options for improved public realm.
“The value of the work has yet to be established although an initial assessment was completed. The allocation of Southport Town deal funds to the Southport Public Realm Phase 1 scheme is £2.5m. The scope of the project to be delivered on site could be slightly reduced as necessary prior to construction to ensure it remains in budget.”