Historic England to consider protecting concrete controversy from the bulldozer

An application has been made to grant official listed status to Liverpool city centre’s Churchill Way flyover to ensure it can escape being bulldozed.

The elevated bypass, which runs over Byrom Street, was built in the early 1970s as part of was called the Tunnel Relief Flyover interchange. It cleverly enabled traffic to be moved over the busy tunnel entrance, easing potential hold-ups at peak periods.

But the concrete road became more of a death row for a number of years after proposals were put forward to demolish it and bring traffic back down to street level.

It won a sort of reprieve when one of the flyovers was earmarked for inclusion in the ill-fated tram scheme.

Then there was a move by a campaign group called Friends of the Flyover to have it converted into an urban park in the sky, a traffic-free public space hosting events.

Now local activist John Bradley has applied to Historic England to have the structure protected by giving it official listed status.

Bradley has been told by Historic England that his application will now be considered by the agency’s designation listing team.

If they agree, a recommendation will be made to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, who would make a final decision.

Explaining why he submitted an application, Bradley told Liverpool Confidential: “It did win an award when it was built. Aesthetically it is one of the best flyovers I have ever seen, especially the south bit which is lovely and curved.

“With the footpath spiral and some of the pedestrian access ways it really is of its time. Everything about it says late 1960s early 1970s. It is one of those structures that you either love or loathe."

The idea of turning the flyover into an urban park has been bandied about since 2013

He went on: “The Sankey Viaduct is listed and while I would put this at Grade I, it is a fine example of the style. One of the things that make a city is that it exists in three dimensions and the flyover is an important part of the layering of the city.

“If you compare the Churchill flyover with Rice Lane flyover, the one that runs behind William Brown Street is the more elegant and I'd challenge anyone to find better one.

“Whether it is a road, cycle way or park, it doesn't really matter. I'd convert the two car parks under it into pocket parks. It would take a bit of imagination to make really work but it could be done.”

But not everyone agrees the flyover ought to be spared as some kind of cultural or historic masterpiece.

One contributor to the online architectural and town planning forum, Skyscraper City, wrote: “It's ugly and quite literally divisive, it's disruptive to natural flows of both people and traffic, it shrunk the city centre by divorcing London Road from Dale Street (and so killing London Road and the east end of Dale Street)... 

"The pedestrian walkways are a mugger's paradise no matter what you do to them, with all the huge pillars. And who wants to climb halfway to the sky, and zig zag here and there, just to reach somewhere you ought to be able to walk to inside a few minutes on level ground? It's grim, and it causes everything around it to be grim.

"Additionally, the notion of turning off the traffic is unworkable. Either it stays and has traffic on it, or it needs removing to restore the natural street flow.

"All in all, it's a cock-eyed construct from a cock-eyed era, and the only thing it's good for is rubble. Applying for it to be listed is rather ironic, since its very presence has endangered so many existing listed structures (through being a central cause of the area's failure), and has to be up there with the most bonkers things I've read all year."