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30-storey tower planned for edge of Liverpool city centre

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Liverpool's equivalent of Manhattan's Flatiron Building - a giant, dramatic wedge-plan tower - has gone in for planning consent. The 30-storey tower will include a 144-bedroom hotel on the lower 12 floors and 80 residential flats above. It will be more than 150m high.

KE Martin Architects, a two-man practice, has designed the skyscraper, with steel crossbracing, as part of a £45 million scheme which also includes an adjacent 17-storey block with 22,000m2 of offices. There will be a square in front of Old Hall Street, on the edge of the city centre. The client is a local developer called the Beetham Organisation. Detailed planning went in last week.

'Its impact will be phenomenal,' said the practice's Ken Martin. 'It is not unlike New York's Flatiron Building and it will be a true gateway to Liverpool. People often don't want towers in the centres of towns, but this one will be on the very edge and the idea is popular.' The site, a car park, used to be the St Paul's Eye Hospital, and the tower could be up in 20 months, he added. The Flatiron Building of 1902 was designed by D H Burnham & Co and remains one of the most distinguished and eccentric blocks in the Big Apple.

'Liverpool is going through a fantastic renaissance with dynamic work by Austin Smith:Lord and Urban Splash,' said Martin, a professor and former head of Liverpool Polytechnic's architecture school for 15 years. 'It is good to be in on the act, and to know there's life after teaching.'

The local council said it was consulting the Royal Fine Art Commission and English Heritage on the application.

Plans for another tower on Liverpool's former Garden Festival site have just gone out to public consultation for four weeks. A spokesman said the developer, Wiggins' Group, was committed to the £750 million project for a 700-storey theme park with hotel and flats. Architect Ruddle Wilkinson, which evaluated a feasibility study, is no longer working on the scheme. Wiggins will re-examine the project after the consultation.

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