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Campaigners challenge Seifert demolition decision

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A group of ‘urban campaigners’ is demanding a rethink over proposals to knock down Richard Seifert’s 1960s Concourse House outside Liverpool’s Lime Street station.

The 12-storey block was to be razed to make way for a new skyscraper designed by Glenn Howells. However, though the original Iliad-backed scheme collapsed last year due to escalating costs (AJ online 02.01.08), landowner English Partnerships (EP) still intends to press on with the demolition.

EP claims the concrete building is widely regarded as a ‘blot on the landscape’ and is ‘commercially’ impossible to reclad. Instead it wants to replace the tower with public realm – also to be designed by Glenn Howells.

Local PR guru Jon Egan – backed by a gaggle of leading architects including Christophe Egret of Studio Egret West and former Liverpool John Moores University head of school Ken Martin – is not convinced.

Egan said: ‘This is an essentially sound and robust modern building that could and should be refurbished.

‘With a modicum of imagination it would be possible to create a distinctive and attractive structure. Regeneration chiefs should at least be inviting creative contemporary architects to explore this option before pressing ahead with unnecessary and costly demolition.’

Egan adds that flattening the block by Seifert – who is best is known for London’s Centre Point – is wasteful and ‘contrary to the principles of sustainability’.

However, EP area director Eliot Lewis-Ward fired back, saying: ‘The overwhelming view from the public was that Concourse House, which has never operated to full capacity throughout its commercial life, should be demolished. Indeed, Concourse House once topped a city-wide “blot on the landscape” poll.

'It is very unlikely to be commercially possible to reclad and refurbish the tower. Even if the tower were reclad, it would still harm the appearance of the station and the cultural quarter around St George’s Hall.’

Initial preparatory work for the demolition of the tower has already started and work on the new public realm is due to begin early next year.

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