Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Cost and security concerns rule out Liverpool using Cunard Building as a cruise terminal

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, and the Cunard Building ECHO picture

Liverpool is likely to abandon ambitious plans to convert its famous Cunard Building into a cruise terminal.

One of the Three Graces – alongside the Liver Building and the former headquarters of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board – it was bought by the City Council for £15 million.

The Mayor, Joe Anderson, hoped its ticket hall could be used to check in passengers embarking cruise ships at the nearby Pier Head. Other plans included a restaurant and heritage centre.

But in order to meet border control and customs requirements, the passengers would have had to be transferred using a secure system, possibly a monorail.

According to consultants, the total cost of refurbishing the building and meeting security demands could have doubled the total cost, taking it to what has been described as “an astronomical” £30 million.

It is now likely the building will be used to accommodate council staff moved from other offices in the city, and the council would also consider offers to convert its upper floors into a hotel.

Mayor Anderson admits: “It is unlikely we will be able to deliver on putting the cruise terminal into the Cunard Building. The cost is astronomical; not only will it cost a fortune, [the pedestrian link] would take up space and blight the waterfront.

He denied that the council had bought a white elephant. “In seven years’ time, people will say ‘what a wonderful opportunity the mayor took.’ The purchase will be a success, not a millstone around my neck.”