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The scrapping of Liverpools tall building policy

2393 Views 8 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Tony Sebo
Hi, I 'm currently doing research into tall building policy in England at Liverpool Uni, and am particulary interested in peoples views on Liverpools tall building policy history and future. Do you feel it was a misguided plannning document, and was detrimental to the city, or would you prefer to have one re-introduced. Thanks for your reply if you have any views on this matter.
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if you're up for digging round the subject was comprehensively covered in this sub-forum.

For me it was a madness based on heritage notions that wanted to 'preserve a 19th C skyline and townscape', which has not existed since 1901, made scant concession to the needs and function of modern downtown.

for starters!
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Hi Snife,

As I recall it, Liverpool's tall buildings policy was created as a means of protecting the World Heritage Site and it's buffer zone by restricting tall buildings to certain specific areas.

I don't know how a tall building was defined (if indeed it was) but these buildings were to be confined to three areas of the city centre. One of these was the Old Hall Street / King Edward Street / Leeds Street area (north of Chapel St / Tithebarn Street), an area that already had several tall buildings and which has added six buildings over 15 storeys this decade.

The second site was the area around St Johns Beacon, which included the now abandoned Lime Street Gateway tower and the Central Village towers, which are planned to be on site this year.

The third site was the southern part of the Kings Waterfront development, where three residential towers were proposed (although the scheme is now being reconsidered).

It became immediately apparent that the areas were not properly defined and seemed to refer to specific projects only - ones already approved such as the Lime Street Gateway scheme. In fact, a tower proposed for an adjacent site by a private developer was turned down simply because of its proximity to the official proposal.

I suppose that the problems with the proposal stemmed from the fact that it was never clear whether the zones marked areas where tall buildings would be encouraged or just tolerated. There was also the question of what happened to tall building proposals that fell outside these areas - as many did. For example the Cesar Pelli residential tower that was lopped from 22 storeys to 17 storeys on English Heritage's insistence. There is also the case of the Brunswick Quay tower that was well away from the WHS or buffer zone but was cancelled after a prolonged fight that included a successful public inquiry whose recommendations were rejected by a government minister who hadn't even visited the site.

Even within the tall-building zones, buildings were still subject to arbitrary storey lopping and the tall buildings policy has generally been seen as a means of preventing the construction of tall buildings in Liverpool than a positive attitude toward high-rise development.
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Thanks for the replys to this question. I've had a look round and located the old topic on here which is interesting, unsurprisingly a lot of relief expressed when the policy was scrapped. It does appear to me that the policy was at best ill conceived, and will provide for some interesting questions when i attempt to interview some council officials this summer. Martin, thanks for the information you provided, it's saved me some time reading through all the old policy to establish the area that the policy affected. It is also interesting how, even with a policy for areas designated for tall buildings that their heights were restricted. As my dissertation is about comparing planning policy on tall buildings to ascertain whether it is useful, this case study of Liverpool is an extremely important part of my research, and the information provided has been helpful.
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We also carried quite a lot of news and comment about the whole issue on my old site but, again, it means digging round the site!

Good luck with your work.
Thanks for that Tony Sebo, I actually came across your site when google ing Liverpool's tall building policy, and it it was on the first page of results. Some very interesting and informative views there, especially from a business side. I just hope some of the aspirations raised there a few years ago are actually realised. I took a trip over to Seacombe and new brighton today to admire the skyline, (and have a few pints) and can only anticipate the impact some of the buildings that are proposed will have on it. Absolutely stunning on a day like today.
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yes. slowly and continually evolving, with application of the most cutting edge function and designs of the time. This is one tradition we MUST adhere to, going down the road of crafting make believe heritage skylines is going against Liverpool's most important development tradition. The heritage freaks do not seem to understand this blatent irony however!
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yeah i agree, these heritage people should go and take a good look at the skyline from across the river and then surely they will appreciate how a well designed tall building can enhance the city. then again, i may be overly optimistic.
I think you would be, sadly. They are quite dogmatic.. and the fact that most of them 'live' in the 19th C doesn't help either!

Conservation is great. Liverpool needs a sound conservation policy to help protect the best of our buildings of architectural and historic worth. Painting heritage pictures is neither of these things, in fact, whilst they swan around the city condemning 'needlessly modern buildings' our best buildings are falling down around us!

As for the rest? we simply need to continue encouraging good buildings that help the city to evolve, as well as to actually fulfill a 21st C function.
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