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Design Council CABE still unconvinced by 'weak' £5.5bn Liverpool Waters scheme

Design Council CABE has again criticised Peel Holdings huge £5.5billion Liverpool Waters regeneration scheme, despite revisions to the project’s ‘governing principles’

The design watchdog’s review panel said that the Chapman Taylor-designed project, which was recently attacked by UNESCO, ‘continued to be hindered by a weakly expressed masterplan’ and that the overarching guidelines remained ‘generic and vague’.

DCCABE also demanded that the ‘most prominent building projects’ within the masterplan should ‘be subject to international competition, particularly in cases like the [centrepiece] Shanghai Tower’.

Although applauding the developer’s ‘level of ambition’, the watchdog went onto criticise the scheme’s eco-credentials saying: ‘Generic statements, such as “buildings will generally face south”, are not helpful and give little confidence that this has been considered as fully as it needs to be.’

Peel initially submitted plans for a series of skyscrapers in the city’s northern docklands in December 2010, claiming the scheme would create more than 25,000 jobs and boast more than 14,000 apartments. The developer is also working on a massive, sister scheme across the Mersey at Wirral Waters.

Neither Peel nor Chapman Taylor were available for comment.

Read the full DCCABE design review here.

Previous story (AJ 19.05.11)

CABE joins attack on £5.5bn Liverpool Waters application

CABE has joined English Heritage (EH) in voicing concerns over Peel Holdings huge £5.5billion Liverpool Waters regeneration scheme

The design watchdog’s review panel has raised fears that the current masterplan for the mixed-use high-rise waterfront development, which has been drawn up by Chapman Taylor, would not create a high-quality scheme. Last month EH also spoke out about the plans aid Peel had a ‘significant’ way to go to prove scheme would not damage the city’s World Heritage Site.

Now CABE has fired of its salvo and in its critique of the skyscraper scheme the commission said the concepts detailed in the Masterplan and Key Principles document were ‘mostly generic and [were] not organised or expressed in a meaningful way’.

CABE said: ‘In our view, the planning application does not fully articulate the nature of what is being applied for in the material submitted and, in its current form, does not provide the confidence that a high quality scheme will emerge.’

The panel also raised concerns about the planning parameters, which it believed were too loose, and has asked the design team to revise them: ‘We do not yet have the confidence that the parameters submitted will provide a sound basis by which to control design quality across the Liverpool Waters site.’

See attached (right) for the full comments.

The developer submitted plans for a series of skyscrapers in the city’s northern docklands in December last year, claiming the scheme would create more than 25,000 jobs and boast more than 14,000 apartments. Peel had originally unveiled super-tall proposals back in 2006 which were later shrunk.

Neither Peel Holdings nor Chapman Taylor were available for comment.

Postscript (20.05.11)

English Heritage has now revealed the independent advice which it commissioned to assess the impact of the Liverpool Waters Application on the Outstanding Universal Value of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile World Heritage Site (see full report attached).

This report concluded that the development ‘as currently proposed would have a harmful effect…in particular the density of development and the cluster of tall buildings proposed at Clarence Dock will divorce two significant parts of the World Heritage Site at Waterloo Dock and Collingwood/Stanley Docks.’

Previous story (28.02.11)

English Heritage hits out at £5.5bn Liverpool Waters scheme

Peel Holdings is facing increasing pressure from English Heritage to make further changes to its plans for the £5.5billion Liverpool Waters regeneration scheme

In December last year the developer submitted plans, overseen by Chapman Taylor, to construct a series of skyscrapers in the city’s northern docklands, claiming the scheme would create more than 25,000 jobs and boast more than 14,000 apartments.

But Henry Owen-John, regional head of English Heritage (EH), said Peel had a ‘significant’ way to go to prove scheme would not damage the city’s World Heritage Site and warned that EH would fight the development if further concessions were not made.

Peel’s plans are already being considered by Liverpool City Council, and the company’s director of investment, Lindsey Ashworth, said last year that they were not prepared to make any more changes after already making substantial reductions to the size of the development.

Should EH lodge an objection and planning permission is granted, it is likely the scheme would be referred to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Owen-John said English Heritage has commissioned an independent report into the potential impact of the scheme, and revealed that advisers from Unesco, which oversees World Heritage Sites, were also preparing a report on the project after being contacted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

In an exclusive interview with the Liverpool Daily Post, Owen-John said: ‘We fully support the principle of developing the area. Clearly it is a brownfield site at the moment which is inaccessible and there is real opportunity that could have enormous benefit for Liverpool widely and north Liverpool particularly.

‘I think we have come a long way in three years and we are appreciative of the changes that Peel have made. The scheme is now very significantly different, there were many more tall buildings.

‘The adjustments that have been made are clearly significant from Peel’s point. We feel, despite that, we are not quite there in being able to reach agreement with Peel.’

Readers' comments (1)

  • Liverpool has made some horrendous mistakes with its World Heritage Site, the integral core around the Pier Head has been decimated by three black blocks that have obscurred the views used on every book cover and postcard.
    The penny is now finally dropping. Peels plans to turn the Central Docks into Shanghai on the Mersey can only be described as monstrous.
    Peel plan to build a new dock structure some 30 miles down river at Salford when they have a dock system in Liverpool that could work if the will was there. The current plans to carbuncle it with glass shoeboxes stcked on top of each other is now a step too far. If you read the EH report there does not seem much room for a compromise.
    All this when the body responsible for Liverpools world heritage site is effectivly the DCMS who are bound by assurances made to Unesco after visits that we at the Liverpool Preservation Trust requested in 2006.
    Liverpool had to produce a Supplementary Planning Document to avoid losing its WHS status.
    These assurances will be contravened by Peel Holdings current plans.
    They must go back to the drawing board.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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