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Friends of the Flyover | in Independent Liverpool 27/05/2014

This could be Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome.

They say travelling broadens the mind and what started off as pleasure soon turned into something much more than that when Kate, Mark and Steve holidayed in the cobbled streets of Rotterdam. Some argue three’s a crowd but this trio are a perfect mis-mash of all skills rehired Kate Stewart, owner of the boldly independent ‘Made Here’ has always been someone influenced by the arts and at the forefront of making Liverpool great is the retailer. Steve Threlfall is the founder of ‘Different’ and has had design running through his blood since he can remember so it only made sense he was the designer. Mark Bennett makes up the rest of the team as the 20 something year experienced architect who’s ability to envisage is much needed. Inspired by the creative citizens and the activists of the city, they spent their days as tourists and their evenings as strategists as they vowed to take the inspiration from Rotterdam back home to Liverpool. One of those very ideas was to revamp and re-purpose the flyover which the city council had proposed demolishing and, as a consequence, create a cultural asset that we can all be proud of. Most people believe they took a bite out of the big green apple when it comes to the aesthetics being so similarly aligned to the New York high line but rest assured this metamorphosis came naturally.

The 2012 SIF (Strategic Investment Framework) document for the city proposes removals that would run up estimated costs between £3-4million without arguably any return. Dank and unattractive routes are understandably threatening to any city, both on the eye and potentially on the body so the proposal is met with some rationale. Rather than plunge millions into destroying it, the quandary led the chaps behind the project to reimagine its potential. In a nutshell, they want to redesign it into an urban park, fit with cafes, planting, allotments, pedestrian routes, small studios for artists and a heck of a lot more. We can only imagine such a hub of creativity, an oasis fit for any tourist or local. Most people believe they took a bite out of the big green apple when it comes to the aesthetics being so similarly aligned to the New York high line but rest assured this metamorphosis came naturally.

Churchill Way overview

Churchill Way overview

The crowd funding campaign to access feasibility of their dream officially started on January 6th 2014 and quickly captured the interests of a lot of people. In total they were asking for £40k but managed to raise just over £43k as of course the good people of Liverpool and beyond dug into their back pockets and gave what they could. A modern day and touching example of the effect of what a collective conscience can achieve. The day they reached their target they were filming a ‘thank you’ video underneath the Flyover and had just finished when a guy cycling past shouted down; “Hey guys, congratulations, well done!”. It is rare that complete strangers can enter our lives as mysteriously as they leave whilst having profound and everlasting moments with them. It was at that moment they realised they were custodians of his dream and everybody else’s, as well as their own.

Friends of the Flyover

Churchill Way from above

The money raised will be used to assess the structure by Curtins Consulting Engineers, a local firm with a national profile that will be a integral part of the feasibility study. The Friends of the Flyover philosophy of involving the local community as much as possible has also been a notable factor for their success as they are setting up engagement sessions with local residents and businesses. The priority is to be realistic, this is a huge project and before it becomes a part of city life, much needed physical improvements are at the top of that very long list. They did a great project for LightNight recently which was supported by Zumtobel lighting and involved 4 teams of people experimenting with architectural light fittings to see how they could change the feel of the spaces on the walkways and the landing stages around them. One of the great moments was when the public were invited onto the space at 10pm and it suddenly had a new life – the kind of life we envisage for it in the future, with a little more hustle and bustle than is usually there.

Friends of the Flyover's vision of the Churchill flyover

Churchill Way Theatre, by the Friends of the Flyover

The success of the evening has resulted in planning a much larger day time event for the summer which will invite the public to come and see the designs they have so far and interact with them giving a chance for people to offer their own ideas and aspirations. The whole project is extremely exciting and has been noticed up by the likes of The Independent and reaching the proposed total to make feasibility checks was the great big first domino being pushed. Be warned, in no way have they reached their apex, this is just the start. With a few licks of paint, or albeit a lot of licks of paint, the blank canvas that is the flyover has been visualised to be much more than that by just three passionate and artistic people. It is safe to say their imagination has spread like wild fire, the recycling rather than destruction of the area is innovative and will hopefully be a model practiced a lot throughout the city which will spur many inhabited wastelands into thriving promenades.

Friends of the Flyover teach us a very modern lesson based on a well-known saying; if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, re-purpose it.

Visit their website here, follow them on twitter here.

This publication first appeared on the Independent Liverpool website.

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Derelict flyover to be reclaimed for residents in Liverpool | in European Mobility week 22/05/2014

More than £40,000 (€49,000) has been raised through a crowd-funding drive, allowing the “Friends of the Flyover” campaign to move forward in transforming the disused flyover for local residents. Campaigners aim to install cafes, markets, shops, recreation areas and community gardening projects along the length of in the centre of Liverpool.

Additionally, the flyover will carry a pedestrian and cycle path to connect areas in the north of Liverpool with the city centre and link various cultural sites in Liverpool’s heritage quarter. Liverpool City Council is supporting the campaign, whose central argument is that the cost of demolishing the flyover is far higher than refurbishing it for communities nearby.

“We are delighted that so many people have supported this idea and that we’re now in a position to move forward with the next stage of the flyover,” said Kate Stewart, co-founder of the campaign. “We’re also grateful for the support of the council and the many local and national businesses that have become involved financially and by giving time and expertise.”

For more information, click here.

This publication first appeared on European Mobility week website.

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From derelict flyover to urban sky park | in European Green Capital 25/06/2014

Campaigners in Liverpool, England, have been successful in their first attempt to transform a derelict flyover into an urban sky park. Campaign group, Friends of the Flyover received over £40,000 in public donations using Spacehive, the world’s first crowd-funding website for civic projects. The urban sky park will be a space for arts events, markets, cafes, shops and community gardening initiatives.

The campaign group Friends of the Flyover was formed by independent retailer Kate Stewart, designer Steve Threlfall and architect Mark Bennet, in response to a strategic investment document published by Liverpool City Council, which proposed the demolition of the flyover. The project aims to reconnect the existing residential communities in north Liverpool with the city while offering a unique opportunity for urban regeneration.

European Green Capital

Today more than two thirds of Europeans live in towns and cities. Urban areas concentrate most of the environmental challenges facing our society but also have the capacity to bring together commitment and innovation to resolve them. Projects such as the urban sky park are a great example of how citizens can contribute towards a more sustainable future within cities.

This article first appeared on Environment | European Green Capital website.

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Liverpool to transform derelict flyover into innovative green space | in Eltis, the urban mobility portal 20/05/2014

A campaign in Liverpool has raised enough money to progress with plans to change a disused flyover into a green urban space for local residents that will include a pedestrian and cycle path.

More than £ 40 000 (€4 9 000) has been raised through a crowd-funding drive, which will help campaigners with their goal to install cafes, markets, shops, spaces for relaxation and community gardening projects along the length of the disused flyover. The move has received a great amount of support from residents as well as from Liverpool City Council.

The pedestrian and cycle path will connect areas in the north of Liverpool with the city centre. It will also help to link various cultural sites in Liverpool’s heritage quarter. The campaign’s central argument is that the cost of demolishing the flyover is far higher than refurbishing it for communities nearby.

‘We are delighted that so many people have supported this idea and that we’re now in a position to move forward with the next stage of the flyover,’ said Kate Stewart, co-founder of the campaign. “We’re also grateful for the support of the council and the many local and national businesses that have become involved financially and by giving time and expertise.’

For more information, visit Cities-Today.com.

This article first appeared on Eltis website.

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Cash Collective | in Move Commercial Magazine June/14

By Christine Toner

Move Commercial Magazine, Issue 38, p 44

Move Commercial Magazine, Issue 38, p 44

Move Commercial Magazine, Issue 38, p 45

Move Commercial Magazine, Issue 38, p 45

The article is available at Move Commercial website here.
It was first published by Move Commercial Magazine, issue 38, which is available online.

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Grand Designs: Friends Of The Flyover | in The Double Negative 14/05/14

by Laura Brown

Friends of the Flyover's vision of the Churchill flyover

Churchill Way Theatre, by the Friends of the Flyover

Can we really build our own city? Laura Brown talks to Kate Stewart from the Flyover project about why this might be the first step towards urban planning that’s healthy, happy and designed by us, for us…

Starting things on a downer is always, as they say, poor form, but here goes. When all the dust has settled, when all the spinning has stopped, there’s one thing we have to know; we have less money. There is less to spend on all the things we believe as a society we should be spending money on.

Yet even if we’re skint, we can’t give up on the things we believe in, can we? Can we still, for example, build a city and a place to live in that’s happy, healthy and inspiring? Adversity is, we’re told, character building. So what are we going to build?

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) recently published a City Health Check report (read our interview with the Regional Director Andrew Ruffler here) asking how far cities support healthy and active choices on a daily basis, as well as reflecting on how far architecture and urban design impact on public health. What does this have to do with the public purse and grand designs? Well, as RIBA says, there’s “a clear link between land use and public health in cities”.

“If 75% of people who don’t do enough
exercise met the recommended walking quota,
then £675m could be saved in a year”

Secondly, they add that “people say it is the quality not quantity of streets and parks that will encourage them to walk more”. This directly impacts on how much we spend on public health (now under the control of local authorities). If 75% of people who don’t do enough exercise met the recommended walking quota (150 minutes a week), then £675m could be saved in a year.

This suggests we need to reassess the decisions we’re making about our cities and think about a more holistic view. But whose responsibility is it? The grand civic schemes of the past are, largely, going to stay where they are: behind us. Who’ll create the big builds that aren’t just money spinners, that don’t include the requisite ‘student apartments’ and ‘mixed use developments’? Who’s going to build the things that are good and healthy and that are being built because we SHOULD be building them and because we LIKE them?

And so we witness what The Friends of the Flyover have achieved in a relatively short amount of time. Recently smashing their first crowdfunding target, they plan to turn the Churchill flyover in Liverpool city centre — which was earmarked for removal — into a green pedestrian and cycle-friendly promenade in the sky.

Sitting down for coffee with one of the team of three behind it, Kate Stewart, she lets out a breath and says: “How amazing is it that the city has taken it to its heart?”

The Flyover project is probably something you’ve heard about — it’s had quite a bit of buzz. You might even have donated money. You might feel a sense of ownership because you supported it. But if you did offer your support, did you know you’ve signed up to something much bigger than a novel way of repurposing a public highway? You’re part of a fledgling movement to fundamentally change the way we plan and deliver our cities of the future.

There are three people in the Friends of the Flyover team: Kate Stewart, Steve Threlfall and Mark Bennett. All work in design and architecture and are “really passionate about our city”. On a trip to Rotterdam, the trio became inspired by people who had brought about change and tackled resistance. Later in the evening, over a bottle of wine, they mused that it couldn’t happen here. “These people would say no and those people would say no and there’s all this regulation”.

Then they stopped themselves. “If we do nothing we’re part of that negative process. Why shouldn’t we use our skills and clear enthusiasm to bring about change like they have?”

A little bit tipsy, Kate, Steve and Mark drafted a business plan. OK, many of us develop world-changing ideas after a couple of scoops (a friend and I once wrote down our musings on how the world worked — the following morning there was a lot of scribbling about sheep and Guinness). Few of us get up the next day and are still convinced not only that it will work, but that people will endorse and support it.

The Flyover is just the first step. “We have five projects that we would give to the city and we call them ‘provocations.’ Under the name We Make Liverpool, there’s the flyover project, a hub space in the Baltic Triangle and the business district which culminates in a festival.”

“It’s big, headline, idealist stuff that gets
the mental juices flowing and truly empowers people”

It’s big, headline, idealist stuff that gets the mental juices flowing and truly empowers people.

The friends went to Spacehive, the world’s first crowdfunding website for civic projects, and launched the Flyover campaign 6th January 2014. The rest, as they say, is history. The £40,848 target they reached is for the first phase; a feasibility study that will see designs developed along with consultation with local residents and businesses. They’ve worked alongside the council about how the project can develop and be taken forward. Many of the support given has been in-kind as well as fiscal.

It sounds like there are a lot of us that fancy a change. There is a desire to create a lasting legacy, to shape and build something that represents an aspiration and a desire to make life better. Liverpool is a political and provocative city; it is built on difference and divergence, a need to affect change and make our mark. How we build has to be part of that. Shopping centres and student high rises are great, but they’re not everything.

We don’t want – can’t be – an identikit place where you could be anywhere. Building development often focuses on a high net worth or transient community, not interested in building lives and experience, or in the city itself for any lasting period of time.

“It’s interesting,” muses Kate. “We have all this green space in the city but at the same time we’re increasing the density and the residents in the city centre and these people don’t have any green space, and it’s really vitally important. One of the comments we got was from someone who works in Chester but lives in the city centre. They think the Flyover is something that will improve their livability. We’ve had emails from people in their seventies who like to walk but don’t feel safe taking their dog off a leash.”

When you have time, read the Strategic Investment Framework for Liverpool. It creates an ‘Arc of Opportunity’; basically big, grandiose schemes that will change how we move around the city, how we’ll interact with it and enjoy it as well as how we’ll make our big impression to visitors. The Flyover is actually in an earlier incarnation of this, the SIF from 2012, when the St George’s project — an ambitious proposal to make St George’s something more akin to Trafalgar Square and to re-route traffic — was discussed. There are plenty of people, from Liverpool Vision right down to the fella at the end of the bar at the Caledonia, who have big dreams and ideas about how they want Liverpool to be a happy, healthy, inspiring and world-changing place.

And yet… We all need to have a say. Or feel like we’re empowered enough to have a say. Things are, ultimately, in a state of flux. How much money we have, how things are funded, why they are funded; all these things are changing. So why stop there? Why not take this as an opportunity to give ordinary people a real opportunity to change the city around us? Why not ask people about what they want their neighbourhood to look like at some point before it ends up on page 6 of the Echo?

We can all define what we want Liverpool to be. In the long run, if we additionally create a healthier city, we’ll not only feel better, but we’ll be quids in. We might think we need to be rich to build a city, but William Roscoe’s dad ran a pub.

We’re all on this road together, like it or lump it, adds Kate.“The time is right politically and socially not just to sit back and moan about the plight, but to say “I’m bored,” and to kickback. The time is right for people to change their city”.

Lighting the Way, this Friday 16 May 2014 and part of Light Night Liverpool (free entry). To be part of five teams lighting up the flyover (25 places available for workshops) email: friendsoftheflyover@gmail.com… or just turn up to see the results from 10pm!

This article first appeared on The Double Negative website.

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Liverpool’s ‘Flyover’ Could Be A New City Oasis Worth Visiting | in Huffington Post, Canada 10/05/14

Friends of the Flyover's vision of the Churchill flyover

Churchill Way Theatre

(Relaxnews) – Liverpool is hoping to follow in the footsteps of New York by creating its own ‘High Line’ stretch of panoramic urban parkway from a concrete flyover.

The UK city’s transport structure currently functions as a series of elevated roads, but the Council is planning to demolish it at an estimated cost of £4 million (US$6.8 million). Now, a group of local designers named ‘Friends of the Flyover’ has stepped in to propose an alternative plan: a sky-high park, walkway and venue space.

Featuring a space for arts, music, dance and education events as well as markets, shops and community gardening projects, ‘The Flyover’ would reconnect residential communities in Liverpool with the waterfront. Suitable for cyclists and pedestrians, it would offer “a thriving oasis and green lung in the city centre.”

Friends of the Flyover

Churchill Way from above

“We see it being used by visitors, the public, the museums who overlook it and we see events, markets, shops and cycle lanes,” explains Kate Stewart, of Friends of the Flyover.

Having recently raised over £40,000 via a campaign on civic crowdfunding website Spacehive, a research study into the feasibility of the project will now commence.

Elevated urban public green spaces are becoming increasingly popular in global cities, with New York’s High Line, built on Manhattan’s West Side in June 2009, leading the trend.

Earlier this year British architects Foster + Partners and Exterior Architecture submitted plans to transform London with its high-flying ‘SkyCycle’ project, and Chicago’s version of the High Line, The 606, is scheduled for completion later this year.

Singapore’s Telok Blangah Hill Park also features a network of flyover bridges and walkways, offering visitors a “monkey perspective” on the city.

This article first appeared on the Huffington Post, Canada website.

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Liverpool to turn derelict flyover into urban park with help of crowdfunding website | in Cities Today 04/05/14

Friends of the Flyover's vision of the Churchill flyover

The urban sky park will be a space for arts events, cafes, shops and community gardening projects

Campaigners have succeeded in their first step to turn a derelict flyover in Liverpool, UK, into an urban sky park. Over £40,000 has been raised through Spacehive, the world’s first civic crowdfunding website. Pledges made through the portal are philanthropic on the basis that projects have to be for the public good.

“We are delighted that so many people have supported this idea and that we’re now in a position to move forward with the next stage of The Flyover,” said Kate Stewart, co-founder of Friends of the Flyover. “The Spacehive campaign has captured the hearts and minds of many people locally and beyond and we are both humbled and excited about the next stage and our newly established responsibility to deliver what is now the vision of so many people. We’re also grateful for the support of the council and the many local and national businesses that have become involved financially and by giving time and expertise“

The Friends of the Flyover group raised £40,800 from 360 people to help turn the flyover into a “promenade in the sky” with a space for arts events, markets, cafes, shops and community gardening projects.

The campaign was set up by independent retailer Kate Stewart, Designer Steve Threlfall and architect Mark Bennet after a council document outlining a new public space strategy for the area proposed it’s demolition at a costs of £4 million.

“The campaign managers underline what can be done with energy and spirit to engage strangers under the umbrella of one great idea,” said Chris Gourlay, founder of Spacehive. “The Flyover offers a unique take on urban regeneration and as a former capital of culture Liverpool is the perfect location for such a scheme.”

The group’s campaign, which is backed by Liverpool City Council, wants to use The Flyover as a catalyst to reconnect the existing residential communities in north Liverpool with the city. They also plan to improve the pedestrian walkways of the structure to create a better user experience around the city’s heritage quarter, Marybone neighbourhood and part of Liverpool John Moores University.

This article first appeared on the Cities Today website.

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Crowdfunding gets Liverpool’s elevated park off the ground | in The Independent 02/05/14

by Jonathan Brown

The project has been compared to New York’s High Line

The project has been compared to New York’s High Line

If the urban planners had had their way in the 1960s motorway traffic would have thundered along elevated highways above the streets of Liverpool on its way to the Mersey docks. Luckily it never happened.

Today all that is left of that brutal concrete vision are two inner city flyovers – widely regarded as white elephant reminders of the post-war love affair with the speeding car.

Now local people have an extraordinary plan to transform the unloved structures into a cycle and pedestrian-friendly parkway-cum-venue which will return a key area of the city to the people.

More than £40,000 has been raised by public donation through civic crowdfunding site Spacehive to begin a feasibility study on whether the Churchill flyover might become a promenade in the sky complete with arts spaces, landscape gardens and coffee shops.

The project has been compared to New York’s High Line – a hugely popular 1.5-mile linear park built on the site of an old railway, which has revitalised an area of Manhattan’s West Side.

Designer and independent retailer Kate Stewart of Friends Of The Flyover – one of a group of local professionals and their supporters campaigning on behalf of the project – said the scheme could bring spread the benefits of city centre regeneration.

“What has become really important to the campaign is how strongly people feel about it. That is the benefit of the crowd funding process. The city has really taken this to heart and seized the ambition,” she said.

At present the Churchill Way soars above the public realm hastening traffic past the municipal magnificence of the Walker Art Gallery, World Museum and the new Central Library acting as a forbidding barrier to the north and south Liverpool.

“It is emotionally grim. It is grey, dank and wet. It is also structurally grim in terms of light and water,” Ms Stewart said.

The plan was hatched in response to a strategic investment document published by Liverpool City Council, which proposed the removal of the flyover, the only surviving part of a wider plan to give Liverpool an urban motorway network in the 1970s which would have seen the M62 brought right down to the banks of the Mersey.

It is estimated the cost of knocking it down would have been up to £4 million – nearly twice as much as it would cost to turn it into a park, it is claimed.

Under the plan the walkways would be rejuvenated and used for staging events followed by the traffic carriageways themselves. Supporters say that in the past the flyovers have been closed without bringing traffic chaos to the city.

Andrew Teacher, policy director of Spacehive, said the funding model had already delivered citizen-led new projects elsewhere in the UK such as a free wi-fi area in Mansfield town centre, a London sculpture walk and transforming a Welsh phone box into an art gallery.

“This represents a growing trend for people taking the public realm into their own hands and using civic crowd funding as a way to enhance the environment. Anyone with a great idea can get it out there,” he said.

This article first appeared on The Independent website.

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Liverpool Becomes Latest City With High Line Plans | in Arch Daily 05/05/14

by Rory Stott

The Churchill Flyover in Liverpool. Image © Flickr CC User Arthur John Picton

The Churchill Flyover in Liverpool. Image © Flickr CC User Arthur John Picton

Thanks to a group called Friends of the Flyover, Liverpool has become the latest city with aspirations to build its own High Line-style elevated parkway. The group have raised over £40,000 on the civic crowdfunding website Spacehive to conduct a feasibility study on the elevated Churchill Flyover, with the aim of creating a park, events space and cycle route. Liverpool Council currently has plans to demolish the flyover at a cost of £4 million – however they are said to be open to the proposal by Friends of the Flyover, who hope to show that they can deliver a better solution for around half the cost. You can read the full story on the Independent.

This article first appeared on the Arch Daily website.