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Liverpool to bring back tall buildings policy in face of UNESCO threat

Liverpool waters 7

Liverpool looks set to restore its tall buildings policy – 12 years after scrapping it – in an attempt to stop UNESCO stripping it of its World Heritage Site (WHS) status

Last year, the United Nations heritage body last year told the council it would consider rescinding the city’s status unless it stopped the ‘granting of planning permissions which have a negative impact on the outstanding universal value of the property’.

The city council has now drawn up a list of measures it hopes will avoid that scenario, including the introduction of a new skyline policy for tall buildings.

Council documents say that its Desired State of Conservation Report outlines ‘corrective measures that Liverpool City Council, the recently established World Heritage Site taskforce, the city’s WHS Partnership Steering Group, together with Historic England and government agree to put in place’.

Architect Barbara Weiss, who founded the Skyline campaign against inappropriate high-rise development in London, said: ‘Much as our campaign was founded in 2014 to counter the mindless proliferation of tall buildings in central London, it has become over the years increasingly worried by the many instances of copycat over-development appearing now also in far too many of the smaller British cities.

‘It is not a second too early, as the city has been facing for several years now a level of blight that, if implemented, will destroy forever its uniquely grand and severe beauty, and its character and identity as a whole. UNESCO must be congratulated for its stern rebuke, and the mayor of Liverpool for reconsidering his position.’

Other measures proposed in the document include the production of new planning documents to protect the status of World Heritage Site properties, and a review of the height of development at the Liverpool Waters site (pictured above), masterplanned by Chapman Taylor.

Former Liverpool mayor Warren Bradley scrapped the city’s tall buildings policy in 2006, branding it ‘ridiculous’ and contrary to the aims of a ‘progressive, proactive city.’

Liverpool has seen a rash of approvals for skyscrapers in recent years.

Last April, the AJ reported that Liverpool City Council had approved plans for four towers by Falconer Chester Hall and a 27-storey skyscraper by Hodder + Partners.

In August, the council approved two high-rise schemes on its historic waterfront: a 31-storey skyscraper by Brock Carmichael and a 15-storey building by Hodder + Partners.


Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage

’We welcome this concerted effort to keep Liverpool’s World Heritage Site Status - and recognition of the benefits that come with this international badge of honour. The draft paper contains important details - like a proposed skyline policy - and we hope these positive measures are adopted by councillors at the meeting on 23 February.’ 

Falconer Chester Hall's Moda scheme in Liverpool - view looking towards the Three Graces

Falconer Chester Hall’s Moda scheme in Liverpool - view looking towards the Three Graces

Falconer Chester Hall’s Moda scheme in Liverpool - view looking towards the Three Graces


Readers' comments (3)

  • This wonderful news and not before time. If ever there was a city in the UK requiring tall buildings to grace it's already magnificent waterfront setting then that city is Liverpool - home of Europe's first skyscraper...!

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  • Actually this is not JUST about tall buildings. Planning blight has undermined Liverpool's Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) as defined by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, and as agreed to by Liverpool in 2004, the year of inscription.
    More urgently, proposals to to destroy the OUV of Bramley-Moore dock are in progress.
    So is this "tall building" story really a smoke screen to deflect attention away from infilling of an historic dock for a football stadium ?

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  • The quality of all new architecture in Liverpool needs to be reviewed. Some shockingly poor developments going in and it there doesn't seem to be any thought of planning behind any of it.

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