Wide Georgian streets. Leafy garden squares. Hip cafes, bars and restaurants for the bearded classes and more quirky monuments and historical curios than you could shake a stick at. And still his corner of Liverpool doesn’t make it on the hip list. Darn it!, says Dougal Paver.
This morning’s Telegraph has a summary of the world’s hippest neighbourhoods, and you know what? Canning, my funky little corner of Liverpool 8, doesn’t get a look-in.
Thing is, for all its quirky appeal and endlessly varied architecture, it doesn’t deserve to. Not even close, in fact. It lacks the retail and service infrastructure, never mind the achingly trendy denizens of somewhere like Hoxton or Shoreditch. Nor the earning clout, for that matter.
But should it matter? Richard Florida, in The Rise of the Creative Class, suggests it should. Very much so. The most prosperous cities are those that attract and retain highly creative people and, among the many things that contribute towards that objective, are groovy neighbourhoods.
I’ve blogged before about Dublin’s advantage in this regard, albeit from a slightly different angle: in its case it was the homely localness and interest of its suburbs that is so appealing. And they work: its GDP is around 160% of the EU average, whereas Liverpool’s is a touch over 90%, and Google, LinkedIn, PayPal and about a dozen other top American tech companies have their EU headquarters in Dublin. That’s the prosperity gap explained, then.
Anyway, there’s the challenge for Liverpool, albeit a bit chicken and egg. Is anywhere delivering on this? Ropewalks, but achingly slowly. Baltic, but many fear its uniqueness will quickly be lost as the smart money piles in. Lark Lane? Yes, though many argue it’s in danger of losing its special character. Point is, there’s precious little for a city of Liverpool’s size and certainly nowhere as pretty and prosperous as Clifton in Bristol, say, or Glasgow’s Byers Road (its entire West End, in fact).
Still much to do on the Royal Blue banks of the Mersey…