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AEW bags planning for £200m Liverpool retail scheme

Liverpool City Council has approved a huge extension designed by AEW to the city’s Edge Lane retail park

Derwent Holdings, which is owned by multi-millionaire property developer Albert Gubay, was given the green light to extend the area on the eastern fringe of the city by 40 per cent - the equivalent of 55,000m² of shops.

Councillors voted to approve the plan, ignoring objections from Knowsley Council that the extension would damage businesses in towns such as Kirkby and Huyton.

The Government still has to give its final approval and Knowsley Council’s objections may yet lead to a public inquiry.

Derwent Holdings claims any new shopping centre will raise the standard for retail park design because of its planned ‘high-quality buildings’ and underground parking.

Building work cannot begin until the Government decides it can go ahead, although demolition work is scheduled to start immediately.

Steve Burne, AEW’s managing director said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to have received this decision after years of hard work from the team. This is a very significant project for the region at a time of continuing uncertainty and we are looking forward to delivering the first phase as soon as possible.’

The developers said the project will take four years to finish and will create 1,500 jobs.

The project team includes KFM as quantity surveyors and project managers and DPP as planning consultants.

CABE’s design review report in full

Edge Lane Retail Park, Liverpool

5 November 2010

Planning reference: 10F/2235

Summary

The redevelopment of the Edge Lane Retail Park provides an important opportunity to improve impressions of Liverpool for people arriving by car along Edge Lane, and to improve the environment for local residents. We support the principle of the design approach taken in this development; and in particular the strong landscape approach. However we do have some concerns about the detailed design. We feel that the use of high quality materials and planting, alongside a strong landscape management and maintenance strategy, will be essential to the success of this scheme. A strong attitude to energy efficiency and sustainable design is also vital and careful consideration needs to be given to the design strategy for Edge Lane to create a pleasant pedestrian environment and to ensure activity along this street.

Landscape strategy

In our view, a strong landscape strategy is essential, if a real transformation of Edge Lane Retail Park is to be achieved. The limitations of the building type, which is basically a shed, and the large amounts of parking required, give limited scope for place making. We support the provision of a pedestrian tree lined walkway leading from the leisure building diagonally through the car park. We consider that this route will provide a clear and safe walking route through the retail park from Edge Lane and a physical and visual link between the leisure building and the café and restaurant units in the centre of the site. We feel that this route will also emphasise the design idea of providing for diagonal views across the site towards Liverpool’s two cathedrals.

We wonder whether the car park could be designed to accommodate alternative uses, such as a weekend morning market as, in retail park schemes, the car park needs to be sized to cope with peak shopping times, and may be relatively empty at other times. Designing the car park to allow for other uses could make this an enjoyable place to visit, and increase its benefit to the local community. The design of the retail buildings around the edge of the diagonal space will also have an important role in making this a welcoming place, as well as framing views of the city.

We consider that the arrangement of the group of café and restaurant buildings in the centre of the retail park will frame and provide shelter to the new public space in this location, also providing a focus to the end of the tree lined pedestrian route. We are also encouraged by the provision of a direct pedestrian and vehicular route across the railway line to link the retail units on the opposite site of the railway tracks to the main part of the development. However, direct public access to the retail park from Binns Road should be added so that residents to the west benefit from more direct access to the retail park.

We welcome the creation of a new public space outside the leisure building to act as a meeting place and a pedestrian gateway into the retail park. The use of steps and ramps as an integral part of the design of this public space helps to overcome the difficultly of dealing with the changes of level in this part of the site. The success of this public space will rely upon the use of high quality materials and planting alongside a strong landscape management and maintenance plan.

Edge Lane

We consider that the provision of retail units fronting onto Edge Lane helps to define this street frontage. However we feel that a strategy is required to deal with the issues of the fronts and backs of the retail units along Edge Lane. Managing dual fronted units can be difficult, and taking into account the reality that the majority of people will enter these retail units from the car park, it is important to think about the impact of an inactive frontage along Edge Lane and have a strategy to address this issue.

Sustainability

Little information is available about the scheme’s approach to achieving low energy sustainable design. The large area of tarmac required for this scheme could offer an excellent opportunity for ground source heat pumps. We also think it is essential that the retail units are designed to maximise daylight on the shop floors. Other issues for consideration include the potential for greening the large areas of flat roof, and minimising the impact of rainwater runoff. Given the reliance of retail parks on car use, it will be important for the development to minimise its environmental impact in other respects.

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