By Mark Hookham, Daily Post Staff
THE gustiest street in Liverpool is to be specially redesigned to stop it acting as a wind tunnel. Office workers have battled for years against the strong winds that roar along the Mersey and are funnelled by the high buildings on either side of Old Hall Street. Developers say the construction of the 30-storey Beetham Tower on the site of the former St Paul Eye hospital will minimise the strong winds. As part of the Beetham Organisation's development, one end of Old Hall Street will be redesigned and the strong gusts will be deflected across, instead of down, the street.
Director of Beetham Organisation James Hubbard, said: "At the moment the prevailing winds are westerly and south-westerly. "The wind comes across the street and is funnelled up it by big buildings like the Littlewoods building, Lancaster House, and the City Exchange. "In effect, the Beetham Tower will stick out and create a lee effect. It will act as a big obstacle to the wind and it will be deflected onto King Edward Street."
Engineers from Manchester-based firm Buro Happold created a three dimensional computer model of the street to simulate wind levels with or without the tower block. A spokesman said the tower will be designed to ensure that wind speeds do not exceed the maximum safety wind speed of 21 metres per second. He said: "We have advised the architects on the best way to maximise the comfort of pedestrians in Old Hall Street. "It is often good practice in the design of tall buildings to build a street frontage to minimise the down draft down the front of the tower. "They have done this and have also included canopies, overhangs and trees at street level. "Our computer analysis identified a particularly windy area on the corner of Brook Street and Old Hall Street. "Speeds can reach 10 metres per second but the building will noticeably reduce the adverse effects of this hot spot."
Linda Beard, an administration worker at Royal Sun Alliance office in Old Hall Street, said: "The winds down the street are terrific. "A couple of weeks ago I went out to lunch and saw people almost being knocked off their feet. "Elderly people have to use the Cotton Exchange building and they must find it very tough when the wind gets up." The £60m development will create a four star 200-bed Radisson hotel and 132 luxury apartments. The complex includes a restaurant built using the last remaining wall of the old canal cottages on the former hospital site. Two more tower cranes will soon join the two already on site and the development should open between February and March 2004.