However, in yet another twist in the long-running saga, the damning report has come too late for objectors battling English Partnership, which wants to issue Compulsory Purchase Orders for large chunks of the area, on the eastern fringe of the city centre.
The public inquiry, the second to focus on contentious plans for Edge Lane, was officially closed two weeks ago, meaning the findings will not be admissible as evidence to the inspector – even though the design review took place two days before the inquiry was wound up.
CABE did not pull any punches, claiming the scheme, which is similar to the government’s much-criticised Pathfinder urban-renewal project, had ‘fundamental problems’.
Echoing the concerns aired at the inquiry by SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the commission said: ‘The existing housing stock is of reasonable architectural merit and this successful townscape is a part of the entrance journey into Liverpool. We think that the demolition of these buildings will be a loss to the built environment of Edge Lane.’
It went on: ‘Overall, the site layout makes familiar mistakes of unsuccessful housing estates… [and] we are not convinced that the widening of the highway, demolition of the existing buildings and the proposed housing will achieve the objectives of the Supplementary Planning Document to improve the entrance route into Liverpool and lead to the type of positive transformational change that is fundamental to Housing Market Renewal.’
Long-term Edge Lane CPO protester Jonathan Brown, a planner and Merseyside Civic Society Council member, said: ‘No wonder the proponents wanted to wind things up before this got out and the inspector saw it – it questions the basic premise of the scheme as having "fundamental problems", as well as absolutely slating the "thoroughly disappointing" design details.’