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Liverpool media centre axed after grant delays

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Architect Brock Carmichael expressed bitter disappointment this week following an Appeal Court decision which killed its plans for a £120 million media centre behind Albert Dock. The council-backed project, Discovery Park, was based on an option to develop the Chavasse Park site, granted in 1996. At the same time, the council granted developer, the Walton Group, an option on the site - which could be exercised if the council's own scheme fell through.

Following delays in securing essential grant aid, including £2million from the Millennium Commission, Walton mounted a legal challenge to secure the site for its own shopping-centre scheme. It lost the first court case in July, but has now won the appeal. The council, which expected confirmation of lottery money later this month, has yet to decide if it will take the case any further.

Martyn Coppin, a partner at the architect, said: 'We are devastated. The project has gone through all the planning hoops and we had almost completed the drawings.'

The scheme involved a 12,000m2 'media factory' with studios and offices near to a 7000m2 two-storey block with leisure and education attractions on the discovery theme, and a multiplex cinema. These two buildings were to sandwich a 1.6ha landscaped park.

Doug Clelland, professor of architecture and urban design at the city's John Moores University, told aj that the Walton Group was about to enter a much larger strategic plan because the site was included in the masterplan area for a competition launched by Liverpool Vision, the uk's first urban regeneration company.

'It will have a major impact on a straightforward ambition to build a shopping centre on the site. The competition throws up lottery and masterplan issues. Given Liverpool's incredible collapse since the 1960s, it is now a laboratory for 21st-century ideas.' The Walton Group was unavailable for comment.

The Liverpool Vision competition is for the makeover of about 3km of Liverpool waterfront, stretching another 3km inland. Details from Layth Bunni on 0151 236 8333.

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