SAVE Britain’s Heritage is considering appealing against a High Court decision which paves the way for Broadway Malyan’s contentious regeneration of Liverpool’s Lime Street
Last week the court threw out the campaign group’s bid for a judicial review of Liverpool City Council’s approval for the £35million student housing-led scheme within the city’s World Heritage Site (WHS) ’buffer zone’.
SAVE claimed the authority had failed to notify the Department for Culture Media and Sport and UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee over the development, which includes the demolition of a row of buildings including the former Futurist Cinema (1912).
But a judge rejected the claim stating that Historic England (formerly English Heritage) had been consulted on the project and that the government’s heritage watchdog had not raised any objections nor requested that the communities secretary call it in.
The judge added that it would cause ‘considerable problems’ for the World Heritage Committee – which only meets once a year - if it had to consider all planning applications that could have an effect on the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage Sites.
Responding to the High Court decision, SAVE Director Clem Cecil said: ‘[We do] agree with the decision and is looking into appealing against it.
‘This is Liverpool’s gateway street. It is imperative that proper consultation takes place in order to secure the best possible design solution for the site. In this case it has not taken place.’
She called the replacement proposals ‘poor’ and ‘unnecessary’.
Cecil added: ‘[The proposals] replace a coherent streetscape that has evolved over centuries, with a monolithic student block and bland shopping centre.’
However Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, welcomed the High Court decision, saying: ’This legal move, which I believe was based on spurious grounds, was an attempt by outside interest groups to delay much-needed regeneration, and fortunately the High Court has seen right through it.
‘I look forward to us now being able to crack on with the much needed transformation of this area of the city centre which will no doubt act as a catalyst for further investment and development in the area.’
Council officers concluded it was not possible to save the façade of the former Futurist cinema because of its poor structural condition following deterioration over a number of years.
Anderson said: ‘Our commitment to heritage has seen the number of buildings on the at risk register at a 24 year low and some, including the Royal Insurance Building and Stanley Dock, brought back into viable use due to our intervention. Sadly in this case independent experts have told us that the Futurist simply can’t be saved.’
But Cecil said: ‘The fact that the street is in poor repair is not an excuse to tear it down. SAVE is staggered that John Whittingdale MP is happy for this kind of crude destruction to take place in a UK WHS that is already on the At Risk list. This development may lead to it being deleted. Does he want this on his watch? We need to wake up before it’s too late.’
Steve Parry, managing director of Neptune Developments, which is behind the scheme, said: ‘Lime Street urgently needs this project to happen. There has already been a cost associated with a delay that has impacted on the project’s financial viability. On a positive note we have exchanged with a major fund before Christmas and can now hopefully get on with early demolition and delivery of a new vision for Lime Street.’