Crumbling remains of once-dominant store stand on major city street

The future of the crumbling former home of a major retailer in the heart of Liverpool City Centre remains unclear.

The derelict remains of parts of the former Rapid Hardware store have stood empty on Renshaw Street for many years, as the building fell into disrepair following the closure of the shop - which once dominated the south side of the street. Plans to develop the end of the terrace, near Cropper Street, into a seven-storey apartment block were approved by Liverpool City Council in 2016 - however, the building remains disused, and YPG developers, who submitted the plans, are no longer involved with the site.

The building was last reported to Building Control in June 2023, when an inspection was carried out. However, the building was not deemed to be dangerous. Rapid once occupied several buildings on the street, and some have now found alternative uses such as the popular Little Hardware cafe.

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Section 78 of The Building Act 1984 means buildings which are deemed an imminent risk to the public can be seized by the local authority. But a recent assessment, carried out on Friday, May 17, found the former shop "is not in an immediately dangerous condition... and appears structurally stable".

The building was last purchased in 2022 by Isle of Man company Collateral Investments Ltd, which later changed its name to Schloss Roxburghe Holdings.

In February 2023, documents were submitted to the council regarding the building of a six-storey, 142 bed hotel on the site. No sign of any such development has appeared yet - though a public car park has been set up behind the crumbling structure. This is currently under investigation by the council's planning department.

Rapid was founded in 1971 and grew to dominate one side of Renshaw Street. The company went into administration in 2013 but reopened as Rapid Discount Outlet, finding a new home in the former George Henry Lee building in Houghton Street before shutting its doors in 2017.

A Liverpool City Council spokesman said earlier this week: "A September 2022 inspection found the openings to the rear of the building and the gates were not fully secured. Given the defective internal condition of the property, Building Control secured the building and gates, under emergency enforcement action section 78 of The Building Act, to prevent access into the building and grounds.

"The last time it was reported to Building Control was in June 2023, whereby it was assessed and although acknowledged as defective, the building was not deemed dangerous, was deemed secured, so no enforcement action was taken.

"The building has again been inspected this afternoon (May 17) – it is still in a defective condition but is not in an immediately dangerous condition (eg. no loose debris, etc) and appears structurally stable. The openings are secured.

"A public car park that has now set up at the rear of the building will be investigated by the planning department.

"Should Building Control become aware that circumstances have changed and the situation becomes dangerous, they will make a further inspection and take any necessary action to remove any danger and help ensure public safety."

Eximia Global, which manages Schloss Roxburghe Holdings, was approached for comment.

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