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Liverpool World Heritage site fears sink new pool

Claims that a mixed-use scheme in Liverpool by Falconer Chester Architects would damage the city's chances of winning World Heritage Site status have scuppered plans for a municipal leisure centre in the city.

English Heritage forced council planners last week to demand that the development be reduced in scale, a move that meant plans for a swimming pool and health centre were left on the drawing board.

The decision to drop the proposals comes among growing concerns that the city's heritage lobby is using the World Heritage Site bid as a tool to dictate planning and development policy (AJ 22.1.04).

Heritage groups, including English Heritage, have now lifted objections to the scheme on Colquitt Street for 100 luxury apartments, provided it is no higher than the nearby Grade II-listed Royal Institute.

To win the support of its critics, Falconer Chester was also forced to lower its design by two storeys. The original application, put forward by developer Illiad, proposed a nine-storey building. However, English Heritage and the Georgian Group succeeded in blocking these plans, claiming it would blight the neighbourhood and the city's historic waterfront.

Bemoaning the loss of the leisure centre, Falconer Chester architect Melanie Ketzer said: 'It would have been a great plus for the local community and for the development. Apartments have now replaced the leisure centre, which is not a viable option under the new scheme.

'The amended plan means only the duplex apartments will be higher than the existing catering college. However, people at ground-floor level on Colquitt Street will not be able to see the elevation.

This, we believe, has met the concerns of heritage groups, ' she added.

English Heritage insists the original application could have jeopardised the city's hopes of becoming a World Heritage Site.

In a statement, it said: 'Although we have always supported the principle of the redevelopment of this site, we did have concerns that the building was too tall in relation to the surrounding buildings. English Heritage has given advice to Liverpool City Council and Illiad on the proposals. The amended plans have gone a long way to addressing our concerns and we have now removed our objections.'

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