Part of Liverpool’s Lime Street is closed from today (23 May) as work gets underway to make the former Futurist Cinema safe.
Fears that the now derelict picturehouse is in danger of collapsing have been mounting over recent weeks, prompting the latest measures to carefully remove unstable pieces of the structure.
The road will be closed in both directions from Skelhorne Street to Copperas Hill until Thursday 26 May, as work is carried out remotely from outside the building using a crane and a cherry picker.
The work will bring disruption for drivers and bus passengers over the coming days, however pedestrians will still be able to walk along the side of Lime Street opposite the Futurist building.
Independent building safety inspectors found last month that the condition of the structure has deteriorated with internal collapse, leaning walls and a high risk that cladding tiles may fall off.
A further independent report is also said to have since found the building is in a worse condition than first thought, and structural experts fear the entire façade could collapse when work begins to make it safe.
The Futurist Cinema features on a stretch of Lime Street which is the subject of a £35 million mixed-use regeneration scheme, however SAVE Britain’s Heritage has also been campaigning to keep building’s façade in place.
The project, which was given planning permission in 2015, is subject to the outcome of a High Court appeal hearing brought by SAVE Britain’s Heritage which is expected to take place in June.
Liverpool City Council asked the Court of Appeal on 16 May to consider a plan to take the structure down to ground level without closing the road, however this was rejected by a judge following an objection from the campaign group.
Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, cabinet member for regeneration, says: “We completely appreciate that this is going to cause a significant amount of disruption for motorists and bus passengers, but public safety has to be our priority and we have to comply with the conditions of the court.
“This building has suffered more than 30 years of decay and neglect and independent inspection after independent inspection has shown it to be in a dangerous state of repair.
“We will be carrying out the work as quickly as we can and have endeavoured to remove the minimum amount of façade possible needed to make it safe.”