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Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool One’

And so we’re back in Liverpool. The seagulls squawking overhead remind us of our proximity to the Mersey; gaggles of neon-clad kids saunter self-consciously past shop windows, surreptitiously checking their reflections.

‘I used to live here,’ I tell Milo as we watch the parade of Scouse youth.

I can see him processing a street style that is unquestionably and uniquely Liverpudlian: the poker straight, styled-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life hair, the verging on orange skin, the propensity for expensive labels writ large. It is so far removed from Manchester’s studied loucheness that I wonder if Milo can spot the difference. And then I remember that he’s seven months old and can barely tell the difference between me and the childminder, let alone ponder the nuances of urban street fashion.

Milo and I mooch. Earlier, Zoe had shown us round Liverpool One, the all-new retail quarter in the centre and the reason that the city that was once my home has suddenly become a stranger. For the past few years, every time I’ve turned a corner I’ve found roads closed, fences raised, new buildings under construction or just great gaping holes where once there stood the landmarks of my Liverpudlian life.

Liverpool was, for all intents and purposes, closed for improvements. And now it’s open again.

Liverpool One owes much to the Arndale and the Trafford Centre. It’s got great shops lining its nicely-paved boulevards. It’s all polished surfaces and you-can’t-hide-in-here bright uplighters. But the developers seemed to have missed a trick because, despite the similarity between this Scouse shopping centre and its Mancunian cousins, it’s not the same. It’s outside. There’s no need for a Trafford Centre-esque fake sky: here, the little fluffy clouds are the real thing.

And yet nothing living, um, lives here. No trees to break up the concrete, steel and glass. No ivy hugging the sides of the new-builds. Not even a hanging basket swinging in the breeze. Save for the odd mangy-looking pigeon, there’s nothing to indicate that you are, actually, outside. It’s sterile, and it’s about as far removed from the scruffy, cheeky Liverpool of my youth as it’s possible to get.

Maybe they’ve yet to install the planters and tubs. I hope so; because a city as unique and as wonderful as Liverpool deserves a centre that sets it apart from every other regional retail development chucked up in the name of regeneration. A bit of clever planting would not only look good but could give Liverpool the kind of sustainable credentials that meant it could cock a snook at neighbouring Manchester. A sort of, hey la, we’ve got great shops and, while we’re at it, we’re tackling the urban heat island effect.

I begin to tell Milo about all this and then stop. How much can a seven month old really understand? Instead, I confect a tale about a city built on the banks of a great sea river, a place that was once one of the biggest ports in the world. This metropolis, I tell him, was watched over by two enormous birds. One stood looking over the people who lived in the city, while the other looked out to sea, screwing up its eyes as it scanned the horizon for the sons and daughters who had sailed away to America, Australia, India and beyond.

Milo burbles; he really couldn’t care less. Mind you, he thinks as he spots another group of squealing teens, there’s a whole lot of fake tan going on over there…

Ratings. Babychanging facilities: at Liverpool Lime Street Station. Cafes: Lots. Buggy-friendly? Not really – lots of steps. Staff: Friendly. Cost: free. Worth it? To Liverpool, yes, to Liverpool One, not really.

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