Williamson Square and Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool

In late 2022, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Liverpool BID appointed a design team to undertake an activation study of Williamson Square in Liverpool City Centre. This included Haworth Tompkins, Layer, MGMA Architects and PLACED.

PLACED have previously worked on Williamson Square in 2017 as part of our Better Places Together campaign but also in 2018 with Liverpool BID and Liverpool City Council. This current work builds on the previous consultations.

What we did

On Saturday 1st April 2023, with support from the design team, PLACED led a pop-up event at Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatre and Williamson Square to engage the public and local community in the activation study and speak with those who use the square to hear their ideas.

The event was partially held inside of the Playhouse Theatre, where display boards were presented and there were also engagement activities for adults and craft activities for children. Immediately outside the venue, in Williamson Square itself, a gazebo and table set-up enabled users of the square to share their thoughts with the team. Families and children were also invited to take part in a treasure hunt where they were asked to rate the different features of the square and give comments. Staff from PLACED and MGMA Architects also took time to walk around the square, sharing conversations with its users and gathering further valuable comments and feedback. Overall, 153 people attended the event and engaged in the activities.

Outcomes

Response to the public consultation and engagement was largely positive but there was a degree of apathy towards the event, highlighting that consultation had been done before with little change. Most people who engaged with us were enthused to share their views on Williamson Square and contribute to the design team’s activation study.

There were some key themes that came up, largely about the square being somewhere people just walk through and not somewhere people tend to spend time. The square also sees some vulnerable people using it. There were also issues with litter, maintenance, broken features, and a lack of identity.

People expressed an interest in seeing the square being activated and utilised more in the future through events, performances or activities, and a clear interest in having the square be busy with quality retail and food offers, as well increasing public facilities such as toilets.

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