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Starchitects could be bypassed, with £10 billion Merseyside scheme going to less famous practices

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Merseyside's biggest-ever regeneration project could be designed by a raft of lesser-known architects if the developer has its way.

In a reaffirmation of its commitment to the two developments, Peel Holdings, the company behind both the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters and the £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters schemes, said it will not necessarily be looking towards the world's top architectural names.

The firm's design director, Lindsey Ashworth, said: 'Peel is not restricting itself to signature architects, because the vision of the Liverpool and Wirral Waters schemes is already greater than any one architect.

'We are happy to open up the individual building designs to unknown international architects out there in the knowledge that there is huge talent that has not yet had the opportunity to be expressed.'

The two developments have been greeted with a hefty dollop of cynicism from many corners of the city, with speculation that the schemes will just be thrown onto the scrap heap in a few years' time.

Although Peel Holdings already has a relatively successful track record - the firm owns Liverpool's John Lennon Airport, as well as Manchester's Trafford Centre - many critics believe the £10 billion project is a step too far for Liverpool.

by Richard Vaughan

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