A Plan for Crosby
Second draft text, 5 August 2011
ABetterCrosby is a community group which has the stated aim: ‘to bring about positive change for the residents of Crosby by celebrating its heritage and directing its future’
We are promoting the regeneration of Crosby Village. With this objective in mind ABC held a consultation event in April 2011 to discuss ideas for the village, and has continued dialogue with local people, Councillors and Council Officers.
ABC believes that a positive, commercially viable and popular Vision for Crosby can play an important role in attracting investment and development which can improve the quality of the village.
The purpose of this text is to initiate such a vision, which local people, the public sector and commercial interests can support and act upon.
To get from the idea of regenerating Crosby Village to actual physical development is a complex process of many steps, but a clear strategy is the first requirement. These are only early steps, but they build upon a clear need for action following a high level of community interest in the state of the Village during 2010.
Elements of this Vision
From a simple idea or ‘Vision’ for our town, comes a series of ‘Necessary Qualities’, things which the town needs to do but currently does not. In turn these qualities suggest a series of ‘Requirements’, tangible things which would improve the town, and taking these requirements together and seeing the whole picture, will allow a ‘Masterplan’ to be created. This will take all the current aspects of the village and the ‘Requirements’ and create a plan of interlinked development projects and smaller improvements which work together to provide the best possible solution for the whole community.
We want to agree the key ‘Requirements’, with all interested parties before progressing to a ‘Masterplan’. Some things won’t work together, and only a ‘Masterplan’ solution can bring it all together, and demonstrate to sceptics what is possible for Crosby Village.
Liverpool’s best suburb, which benefits from its own clear identity as a distinctive town. With great schools, housing, parks, beaches and a thriving centre (“the Village”), which serves the whole community whilst retaining its historic character, Crosby is recognised as one of the best places to live and work in Merseyside.
Most aspects of this vision are already in place, with the exception of Crosby Village being a thriving centre.
The Necessary Qualities of Crosby Village
Serving our whole community
Crosby Village is not thriving because it is not providing the right services that attract customers. Currently many shop units are empty whilst others provide for the ‘value’ market, leaving only a few others attracting a wider range of customers. The viscous circle of lack of customers leading to a lack of shops must be broken. There are entrepreneurs who want to create profitable, popular businesses, as seen in other areas of Crosby, and the village has a strong catchment area, but the reasons businesses are not locating here must be addressed. One reason is a lack of clarity about the future of the village. An agreed plan will address this. Another is visibility of the village, unless you choose to explore the pedestrianised areas, then you don’t know what is happening - there is no passing trade at all. This makes starting a new business particularly hard. Lack of easy access into the village, with pedestrians having to negotiate busy road crossings, and car users having to ‘pay and display’, also deters potential customers. Another issue is rent levels, but these should be driven by market values and responsible landlords, for whom some rent should be better than nothing. The best chance to improve rents is to improve the service the village provides. Our proposal cannot determine or install the exact type of businesses that will revive the village, but it can create the conditions which will make the village attractive to entrepreneurs who are able to serve the changing needs of our community.
Creating commercial value
The regeneration must be commercially led. Fortunately there is already a lot of commercial interest in the village, due the potential market of its catchment area. Creating attractive conditions and value for businesses so they want to invest in depends understanding and serving their needs to. A key to this is having major attractive shopping or leisure ‘anchors’ which bring customers with money to spend to the village. One of these attractors should be a larger supermarket providing for household’s regular ‘big shop’ for food. Another should be a range of smaller distinct businesses which work together to create a cluster of activity which draws customers. Examples of this kind of district include Birkdale Village, where the range of independent food shops and cafes work together, and Hope Street Liverpool, where a cluster of cafes and restautants combine to create a popular destination. Apart from retail and services value is also created from property. The Core Strategy identifies future development needs across Sefton, particularly residential requirements, and it may be that additional value can be created by introducing such other uses into and around Crosby Village.
Reflecting our heritage
Successful places don’t just offer services but also have some distinct character and quality of place, making them interesting to visit. The history of Crosby gives it some character which can be reinforced by sensitive development. The origins of the town are seen in the street pattern and historic pubs. The Art Deco Glenn Buildings remind us of the growth of Crosby with the train /tram in the 1930s, and these buildings, with restoration, could be the hub of a cluster of attractive shops and cafes, or alternate businesses serving future needs.
Responding to future needs
To be successful Crosby needs to be able to respond to future requirements, some which may not yet even be apparent. Many of the things identified in Sefton’s sustainability policy try to suggest what these future issues may be, and these policies should be carefully considered. Changes in transportation cost, changes in shopping habits, and changes in affluence may all affect our Village. Crosby needs to be flexible, its buildings and infrastructure need to become and remain flexible, to allow it to respond positively to future changes.
(Do you agree with these headline qualities?- any others you think are important?)
The qualities identified allow us to think about what the actual solutions could be, and the key ones are outlined below.
‘Unlocking Crosby Village’
From discussions with traders across Crosby it is clear that customer access is absolutely vital. Crosby Village is isolated from its community by the road network, parking arrangements and charges, and the extent of pedestrianisation.
A number of things can be done, and we would like people’s opinions on them.
Introduce a controlled element of car access, de-pedestrianising part of Crosby Village. We anticipate this would be a one way system, with the bypasses for traffic remaining fully functional, but local traffic, taxis, and perhaps buses would be able to go through the village, and also make convenience stops.
Improve pedestrian crossing points, particularly from Cooks Road and Coronation Road, such that Crosby Village integrates itself into pedestrian routes in a much better way .
Build a cycling network across Crosby linking schools, the coastline and the shopping areas together, with Crosby Village as the hub of this network.
Get a better parking charge system, which encourages visits of more than 30 minutes to the village.
New facilities to attract new customers
A new supermarket, new shops, cafes, offices, and new housing will all be identified in the plan for Crosby, each bringing more people into the village and creating value for developers. To be successful, all these different elements must work together.
A Co-ordinated solution
The success of Crosby depends upon all the landowners and developers seeing the wider benefit of a co-ordinated solution, and working towards such a solution together. There are a number of key landowners, and one of the most significant of these is Sefton Council. To take Crosby forward requires a co-ordinated and committed approach from Council Officers and Councillors, which can again be sought by the people of Crosby, as it was successfully in 2010. Local businesses and other interested parties also need to share the same vision for a good future for Crosby, the disappointments of recent years leave many sceptical, and it will take time to demonstrate the opportunities.
Promoting our Neighbourhood
For all these things to happen, we must be positively minded and positively promote Crosby. Marketing by old and new methods, events, and community activity in the village all play an important part in setting the scene for a positive future for Crosby. Every music festival, school project, or seasonal performance brings extra life to Crosby Village and from such little projects (acorns?), big things grow (trees!).
Work is underway preparing this plan which will set out how all the different things work together, but before we complete our suggestions – which we want to do in consultation with landowners and the council, we would like any feedback you may have on the principles we have set out.
We hope to hear from you, we will be circulating our suggested Masterplan soon.