Liverpool gay quarter gets go-ahead
Liverpool's Stanley Street will be officially recognised as the centre of the city's gay quarter after plans were approved by Liverpool city council.
The area which includes Stanley Street, Cumberland Street and Eberle Street, will be developed to include a central square with restaurants and cafes.
There are also plans to permanently pedestrianise Stanley Street to help bring in new business and investment.
Councillor Nick Small said the area was a "really unique part of the city".
He added: "It is quirky while cultured, it is diverse while inclusive and we think that by doing this we can bring more investment into the area."
The streets, which are situated on the edge of Liverpool's business district, are still decorated with rainbow flags following last weekend's Pride celebrations, something Mr Small wants to see as a permanent fixture.
"We are looking to get some rainbow flags on the street signs and we can do that quite quickly."
He said that in the longer term they wanted to "look at pedestrianising the area".
"We want to have a gay-friendly area using the LGBT aspect that we've got already in the area and bring in more investment into the area.
"By recognising and building on what we've got here at the moment we can put Liverpool on the map."
Local business owners say that the development is long overdue.
Steve Houghland, who owns Secrets bar on Stanley Street, said: "Liverpool needs it to compete with Manchester.
"This is a real opportunity to bring more tourists into the city and to show that Liverpool has moved on.
"It is more accepted and it helps people to come out and enjoy themselves.
"At the moment it is just a street with a couple of bars in, but it needs to be put on the map. All the business are working together which is a positive for everyone."
But some members of the local gay community are concerned that the area should not just be a money making exercise.
Mike Homfray from Sefton and author of Provincial Queens: The Gay and Lesbian Community in the North-West of England, said: "The commercial gay scene is only one small part of the lives of LGB&T people.
"We need to make sure that there is a variety of different things in that area.
"What we are desperately short of in this area are well funded LGB&T organisations.
"We no longer have a gay helpline in the area and it is still a difficult thing to do to come out for the first time.
"We need to make sure that we are not exposing them purely to something that is effectively a commercial scene which is out to make money."