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Skyscrapers OK for Liverpool's World Heritage waterfront

Airport and docks group Peel Holdings has welcomed a decision by Liverpool planners to allow skyscrapers in the World Heritage site buffer zone

It paves the way for the city’s biggest-ever regeneration project, a £5.5 billion proposal to build high-rise buildings in the city’s northern Central Docks area (see above slideshow for early visuals of the proposal).

The go-ahead is contained in a council report that was ordered by Unesco after the latter raised fears that the historic waterfront was not being properly safeguarded.

The Liverpool Waters development blueprint originally confined high-rise buildings to two areas: the commercial district around Old Hall Street and Parliament Street’s ‘southern gateway’.

But after consultations, the city has approved high-rise buildings in Central Docks, and mid-rise buildings – between seven and 15 storeys – in the quayside area north of Salisbury Dock, which also forms part of the Liverpool Waters scheme.

City officials said the new supplementary planning document will protect key views of landmark buildings, help conserve historic buildings, and positively encourage new developments and the demolition of existing buildings that have a ‘negative impact on the urban environment’.

Readers' comments (58)

  • Now that's a strong vision. I can think of at least one other major city along the M62 corridor that could take a serious lesson from this.....

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  • The great and the good of Liverpool have already proven with the new museum on the "Fourth Grace" site that they care not for the World Heritage site, so this is no surprise at all.

    If this were the Taj Mahal, or the pyramids, would Unesco be taking the same decision? Of course not.

    Just goes to show what WH staus actually means in the context of a city such as Liverpool.

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  • Indeed. Although the planners and councillors in Liverpool have pretty much messed up the waterfront as it is, and really, you have to wonder if it deserves its WHS status any longer.

    Have they discussed this with the DCMDs and UNESCO's World Heritage Centre? Or are they so arrogant they don't care?

    Or are they going hell for leather to b*gger up the WHS so that that status is eventually removed? No doubt developers such as Peel Holdings would welcome that. The rest of us, for whom the UK government contracted to look after those WHS, will be impoverished of course.

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  • This is the council that managed to have one of its new waterfront buildings designated Carbuncle of the Year 2009?

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  • Re comment number 2.

    This isn't UNESCO's plan. This is Liverpool's. Don't confuse the two. UNESCO hasn't taken this decision.

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  • To all those pessimists,
    May I reiterate that it is the 3 graces and the Albert dock that
    Form our WHS, not the waterfront itself.
    This approval will enable the red tape to be lifted and progress the
    Area forward, not to encapsulate it in the past.
    As for the pyramids comment, that reader must not have ever been
    As it neighbouring buildings are in fact a KFC and a Burger king and a whole
    Heap of dross which I am sure will not be the case in the detailed application
    For our WHS!

    Kind regards,

    Nick Serridge | Architect

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  • You know it is very sad indeed watching what is happening in my home town.
    Watching the city being carved up by the North Invested Interests Development Authority and its new Chairman Robert Hough who was a Executive of Peel Holdings.
    Peel Holdings have now cancalled the proposed Panamax terminal in Liverpool Seaforth and have just circumnavavigated Liverpools Port by having plans approved for a new port in.....Salford, Manchester along the Manchester Ship Canal which they own. Near to the Trafford Centre...that they own. How many jobs will br e lost in Liverpool as a result.

    http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/search/label/Peel%20Holdings

    What is worse is that idiotic and churlish debate ensues by those with the invested interests and the local press are effectivly the PR company for Peel.

    Oh and dont tell me its going to be Ichonic.......just like the Terminal Ferry Building, the son of New Museum on the Pier Head.

    The tradgedy is indeed that Unesco, who recieve 15% of funding from the UK government who have a permenant delegation in Paris have allowed the mess to unfold.
    And as for the Supplementary planning document that is not worth the paper it is written because it was put together by the City Council who have done the damage.
    I wished we could turn the clock back but we are in the throes of an architectural disaster and Peels proposals will only put another several thousand empty apartments onto the market for people whose jobs have been shipped down the Manchester Ship Canal to Salford.
    Wayne Colquhoun
    Liverpool Preservation Trust

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  • I blame Thatcher.

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  • I blame Lady Doreen Jones.
    Wife of Sir Trevor Jones, and chairman of Liverpool City Council Planning Committee, she passed as OK all the plans for the buildings which now make an awful mess of the once proud Liverpool waterfront. Views of the World Heritage site are now obstructed from every possible angle by the most godawful architecture, so out of place as to be reminiscent of a 60s new town.
    Her final act was to sanction the ferry terminal, which was awarded the Carbuncle Cup.

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  • Liverppol World Heritage Site

    http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/132

    28COM 14B.49 - Nominations of Cultural Properties to the World Heritage List (Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City)
    Decision Text

    The World Heritage Committee,

    1. Inscribes Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City, United Kingdom, on the World Heritage List on the basis of cultural criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv):

    Criterion (ii): Liverpool was a major centre generating innovative technologies and methods in dock construction and port management in the 18th and 19th centuries. It thus contributed to the building up of the international mercantile systems throughout the British Commonwealth.

    Criterion (iii): The city and the port of Liverpool are an exceptional testimony to the development of maritime mercantile culture in the 18th and 19th centuries, contributing to the building up of the British Empire. It was a centre for the slave trade, until its abolition in 1807, and for emigration from northern Europe to America.

    Criterion (iv): Liverpool is an outstanding example of a world mercantile port city, which represents the early development of global trading and cultural connections throughout the British Empire.

    2. Recommends that the authorities pay particular attention to monitoring the processes of change in the World Heritage areas and their surroundings in order
    not to adversely impact the property. This concerns especially changes in use and new construction.

    3. Requests that the State Party, in applying its planning procedures rigorously, assure that:

    a) the height of any new construction in the World Heritage property not exceed that of structures in the immediate surroundings,
    b) the character of any new construction respect the qualities of the historic area,
    c) new construction at the Pier Head should not dominate, but complement the historic Pier Head buildings;

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  • http://www.liverpoolworldheritage.com/

    "In 2004, Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This website is designed to give visitors an overview of the Site and how to enjoy its many treasures.

    The website also provides practical and academic information to assist in understanding the reasons for Liverpool's inscription and how the World Heritage Site is managed and conserved.

    The World Heritage Site stretches along the waterfront from Albert Dock, through The Pier Head and up to Stanley Dock, and up through the historic commercial districts and the RopeWalks area to the cultural quarter which is dominated by the magnificent St George's Hall...

    The award was made on the basis that the Site is 'the supreme example of a commercial port at a time of Britain's greatest global influence'.

    The area's historic significance centres on its involvement in the growth of world trade, mercantile culture, the trans-atlantic slave trade and mass European emigration."

    "Liverpool World Heritage Values
    The full case for Liverpool's inscription onto the World Heritage list was set out in Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City Nomination Document.

    Crucial to the understanding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site is that the overriding reason for its inscription is the theme:

    'Liverpool - The supreme example of a commercial port at the time of Britain's greatest global influence.'

    The Statement of Significance in the Nomination Document made the justification for Liverpool's inscription on the basis of:

    1. Liverpool's role in World History
    2. Liverpool's Tradition of Innovative Development
    3. Liverpool's Outstanding Urban Landscape
    4. Liverpool's Collections.

    This Statement of Significance was not questioned by the World Heritage Committee when Liverpool's nomination was considered.

    The Statement of Liverpool's Outstanding Universal Value which was agreed by the World Heritage Committee in July 2004 confirmed that Liverpool meets three criteria for cultural WHSs:

    •Criterion (ii): Liverpool was a major centre generating innovative technologies and methods in dock construction and port management in the 18th and 19th centuries. It thus contributed to the building up of the international mercantile systems throughout the British Commonwealth;
    •Criterion (iii): the city and the port of Liverpool are an exceptional testimony to the development of maritime mercantile culture in the 18th and 19th centuries, contributing to the building up of the British Empire. It was a centre for the slave trade, until its abolition in 1807, and to emigration from northern Europe to America;
    •Criterion (iv): Liverpool is an outstanding example of a world mercantile port city, which represents the early development of global trading and cultural connections throughout the British Empire.
    The Statement of Significance goes on to state:

    'Six areas in the historic centre and docklands of the maritime mercantile City of Liverpool bear witness to the development of one of the world's major trading centres in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    'Liverpool played an important role in the growth of the British Empire and became the major port for the mass movement of people, e.g. slaves and emigrants from northern Europe to America.

    'Liverpool was a pioneer in the development of modern dock technology, transport systems, and port management. The listed sites feature a great number of significant commercial, civic and public buildings, including St George's Plateau.' "

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  • "nicholas serridge | 5-Oct-2009 12:46 pm

    To all those pessimists,
    May I reiterate that it is the 3 graces and the Albert dock that Form our WHS, not the waterfront itself. "

    Nope.

    "The World Heritage Site stretches along the waterfront from Albert Dock, through The Pier Head and up to Stanley Dock, and up through the historic commercial districts and the RopeWalks area to the cultural quarter which is dominated by the magnificent St George's Hall..."

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  • What a pointless furor over absolutely nothing.

    None of the so-called skyscrapers will get built.

    And if they do, so what? Have any of you cloud cuckooland conservation terrorists even visited the desolation in the north docks? For your information, that area has been derelict for over thirty years. During that time I didn't hear a single peep about the damage it was doing to people's lives in nearby neighbourhoods.

    Now, it seems, distant fey architects are elbowing each other to prove how "sensitive" they are to the situation. What a bunch of know-nothing hypocrites!

    It's a safe bet these are the same people who didn't open their mouths when Canary Wharf was built, probably because they were too busy scrambling for a commission or two themselves.

    You read the kind of wet tripe evident in this thread and you realise why the architectural profession is rightly heartily despised for its inability to care about anything else other than its own miserable state.

    Grow up the lot of you, before it is too late.

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  • Em... have you bothered to consider several of the so-called terrorists LIVE in Liverpool? Not architects, but people who actually care about the place.

    And how are you so sure none of them will get built? Crystal ball?

    Engage brain before putting fingers to keyboard, please.

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  • I could not care less if some of the so-called "conservationists" DO live in Liverpool.

    I live in the city - and I mean IN the city - and I care passionately about it and what the future holds. I know the North Docks a good deal better than any of the so-called, self-styled "experts," because I lived there for most of my life.

    I don't need anyone to remind me of what we have been through for the last generation, or how we have been partly held back by the kind of tiny minority small-minded "conservation" Luddism that helped get us there in the first place.

    That is the same kind of stunted mentality that has kept the Tobacco Warehouse in place - as useless a pile of ugly brickwork as ever scarred any urban skyline. I can guarantee you the vast majority of locals will be glad to see it demolished. In that location only Jesse Hartley's low level design is worth keeping. And that is just one example.

    There are times when Rem Koolhaas's approach has its merits. The North Docks in Liverpool is one of them.

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  • Maybe you are one of those who has helped the city get where it is today then - a pile of junk erected, and so many historic buildings decaying from neglect.

    Well that's you firmly placed in the philistine camp. Just so everyone knows.

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  • As usual, everyone else is wrong except self-styled "conservationists."

    Well done too for name-calling the city. That will REALLY help matters........not.

    While that kind of mentality is busy staring at its navel and extracting lint some of us wish to get on with regeneration while keeping what is worthwhile.

    Of course, the Victorians and Edwardians who originally built most of Britain would have had no truck at all with the kind of mentality that stands in the way of progress. Nor would Haussmann during the regeneration of Paris.

    Conservation has its place in the North Docks, but at a considered level, mostle minor, and NOT to hold back redevelopment at any cost. Moreover, locals will welcome with open arms the sight of building activity where for years they have had to see dereliction and listen to the babbling of a tiny number of outdated, narcissistic Luddites.

    But you can't expect "conservationists" to remotely understand that. They'll be too busy admiring themselves in the mirror.

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  • Philip, if thats your real name calm down you are making a show of us and yourself.

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  • Yes was that right when they filled in Trafalgar Dock with the rubble from Chavasse Park now thats progress for you. Mouth Almighty.
    http://www.saveliverpooldocks.co.uk/

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  • You sound like a plant from Peel Holdings, and not anyone with a great deal of idea of conservation. Or, indeed, conservationists. Of course, only you can be right. Conservation isn't about simply stopping anything from happening. Didn't you know that? But much of what has happened in Liverpool in recent times is awful. That hasn't helped.

    But hey, bet you feel better for an ill-mannered rant, eh?

    This is far more interesting

    http://www.saveliverpooldocks.co.uk/

    and I do hope you have read this

    Triumph, Disaster and Decay - The SAVE Survey of Liverpool's Heritage

    www.savebritainsheritage.org

    Of course, the Luddites smashed things up. That's not a lot to do with conservation. But history possibly isn't your strong point.

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