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Lime Street 'vision' slammed by leading town planner

'They are walking all over the dead of Liverpool and stomping all over our memories'

Written by . Published on March 9th 2015.


Lime Street 'vision' slammed by leading town planner
 

ONE of Liverpool’s most esteemed urban planning experts has slammed proposals for a new-look Lime Street, describing them as “walking all over the dead of Liverpool and stomping all over our memories”.

Dr Robert MacDonald, reader in architecture at John Moores University, entered the fray after Neptune Developments showed off its bland vision for one of the city’s most important streets.

As revealed by Liverpool Confidential in January, a gigantic block of student apartments takes up most of the street, replacing the (demolished) Futurist and Scala cinemas and bookended by the two pubs, The Vines and The Crown. 

In a slight tweak to the original drawings, the Futurist sign is retained, sitting above a new retail unit. Campaigners who were assured back in January that the facade would be retained,  may well see the sketch as adding insult to injury.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 At 09.17.49Spot what's left of the Futurist, looking not unlike the architectural equivalent of the Stonehenge model in Spinal Tap

Dr MacDonald, who is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a recipient of a Roscoe Citizenship Award, summed up his views of the current controversial plans by Liverpool City Council’s preferred developer. 

“This district is a real Liverpool cultural quarter,” he said. “The proposed architecture swamps and overshadows Lime Street. The Crown is squeezed out of the picture. The proposed  brown slab is even worst than the  old grey monster of Skelhorne Street.

“Lime Street, along with all the Liverpool cinemas,  brought Hollywood musicals and westerns to Liverpool,” he went on.  “Later Alan Rudkin, the world boxing champion, owned The Vines (Big House ) and The Liverpool Boxers Association met in the Irish American Bar. The Crown is a remaining class act as a Liverpool public house. This project is walking all over the dead of Liverpool and stomping all over our memories.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 At 09.18.53

Dr MacDonald said presenting the scheme with just Photoshopped images is unacceptable and called for an urban design forum and a master plan of 3D models which would be available for public scrutiny.

He added: “These buildings are supposed to be gateways and say welcome to Liverpool. The Photoshop drawings are an illusion, physical models would be better to show the facades, spaces and proposed materials. We need proper models for open and transparent scrutiny. Massing, scale, proportion and fenestration all need to be carefully investigated.

Dr MacDonald suggests the whole Lime Street district needs an urban design master plan which should be scrutinised by a Public Design Forum.

“Liverpool City Council should commission a physical model so that all the connections can be reviewed. In most European cities, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Berlin, there are public design forums . 

“There used to be a 1.500 scale block model of the city which showed new proposals. Are Liverpool City Council Planning Department and the Mayor aware of these kinds of models?

“Liverpool One had a very effective large scale model and that project involved an urban design master plan and about 25 different architects. I don't think anybody in Liverpool would doubt the international success of architecture and urban design there.  Public engagement and participation was important. It seems these lessons have been forgotten around Lime Street.

Cultural heritageCultural heritage

Dr MacDonald said he would welcome the restoration of LUDCAP, a one-time body of architects, academics and town planners who met regularly – with no pay or fees involved – to give the once over to major plans in the city. The panel had no statutory powers, but it could give suggestions and opinions as a way or driving up higher standards of architecture and design. 

Even Mayor Anderson has been critical of Neptune’s latest offering for Lime Street which would most of it reduced to rubble.

Campaigners have called for at least the stunning frontage of the Futurist to be preserved, but Regeneration Cabinet Member Malcolm Kennedy says it can’t be afforded as it would add several millions to the cost of creating a new-look Lime Street.

Others may argue it is a price that must be paid in order to protect and preserve a street whose name is known across the world.

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64 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

SootyMarch 9th 2015.

Restoring LUDCAP would be a great idea...good article. no one is against progress, but it has to be done correctly. This is horrible and very damaging to Liverpool, and pleeaaaase NO MORE student accomodation from greedy developers. If Joe Anderson wants to pretend he thinks its unacceptable fine....we all know he was hoping everyone would think it was great. But who cares..just listen to us and you can take the credit joe. There are some great minds in this city whose motives are not monetary. get them on board!

SootyMarch 9th 2015.

we all know the developer has designed this for minimum cost- maximum return....its not good enough people

Ramsey CampbellMarch 9th 2015.

I've begun to wonder if there is a city in Britain that has been more bent on demolishing its heritage and character.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Paul WardMarch 9th 2015.

Slough, as John Betjeman rightly said.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Bracknell is notoriously ugly and unpleasant. John Bradley ought to go there for his holidays.

AnonMarch 12th 2015.

Sheffield

Paul WardMarch 9th 2015.

Buy posh suit, Take mayor and a few councillors to lunch. Assure them that there's nothing interesting, attractive or innovative in designs. Get planning permission. Rinse and repeat.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Rinse being the operative word

John BradleyMarch 9th 2015.

Still no one offering to pay for an alternative. The moaners have had 20 years to save the building sand have basically done nothing, left to them it will be another 20 years till the buildings fall down of their own accord. The attitude of those who oppose everything is similar to those who oppose MMR, they can't face up to making a decision and feel they cannot be held responsible for doing nothing. It not that better designs couldn't be found that appalling but the Luddite unimaginative whining which simply condemns those that want to do something. The nay sayer offer to do nothing themselves it is pathetic. Over the last 20 years people could have arrange to do maintenance work on the Futurist of there volition, raised fund to pay people to do it, but they didn't they just winge and demand that other do what they want, while offering no contribution. Carry on with your sabotage, you seem to enjoy it.

16 Responses: Reply To This...
CynicalMarch 9th 2015.

No one is offering to pay for an alternative because Neptune is the council's "preferred developer" and they have an exclusive right to say what goes. So forget that bogus argument. Though quite how Neptune managed to get preferential status to do anything after building the three black carbuncles at Mann Island beggars belief. One can only assume that their left-leaning PR company October, or whatever it calls itself these days, has the fat ear of the mayor.

John BradleyMarch 9th 2015.

There is nothing stopping anyone making and alternative bid, except that no one wants to. So it really you dishonest attempt at interdiction that needs to be forgotten. The 3 buildings at Mann Island which are up for a RIBA prize you mean. Just more and more evidence that your lack of taste, regressive nature and timidity.

Iain HoskinsMarch 9th 2015.

Yes John.. There has been two alternative offers put on the table to redevelop The Futurist - keeping the integrity of the whole building - a bar/ restaurant concept with arts centre and theatre in the upper floors. These have been rejected because it is not part of the new design master plan, and because The Futurist takes up a decent land footprint . Also despite the hoardings 'Lets do Business' The Futurist has never commercially been up for sale so it's re-suse has never been tested in the commercial market.

Iain HoskinsMarch 9th 2015.

Sorry it was last commercially marketed for sale in mid -late 80's about 5 years after it closed its doors as a cinema..

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

So on this basis JB, the Meadows will stay green, as the people have spoken. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways.

Mickeydrippin'March 9th 2015.

According to a recent report. the Futurist is in such a dreadful state, that the surveyors refused to go right inside - even the façade is apparently in a dangerous condition. There is probably nothing that can be done to save the building as a cinema or anything else and I therefore think that it should now be demolished before it collapses.

John BradleyMarch 9th 2015.

What where the details of this offer, know one seems to no anything about them except you. Iain. There has been nothing since the late 80's to stop someone making an offer. Another illogical and meaningless statement from one of the many Anonymous contributors.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Instead of a semi literate rant at a stranger from a total whacko? Get a proof reader big boy!

AnemoiMarch 9th 2015.

John Bradley wrote: “The 3 buildings at Mann Island which are up for a RIBA prize you mean.” Well what do you expect – RIBA architects designed it. They have to support it or lose face. Personally the fact that large glass panels started falling off in the wind soon after they were completed makes me think that they weren’t very well designed and are not fit for purpose. The Pier Head is a very windy location, anything built there must be up to the job of not falling apart when the wind blows. It seems that these fashionable architects have missed this fundamental requirement from their calculations

John BradleyMarch 9th 2015.

No anon the people have not spoken of the 400,000+ people in town the vast majority have said nothing and the point about the Futurist is that they did the same kind of speaking but didn't put there money or elbow grease where there mouth was.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

If there is a case for demolishing the Futurist because it might fall down after thirty years of neglect, then logically there is a stronger case for the demolition of the Mann Island ‘coffins’ the Unity Knob and other fashionable new-builds that drop huge sheets of window glass and cladding into the streets below when they only a few years or month old and, one presumes, in an excellent state of maintenance.

Iain HoskinsMarch 10th 2015.

John Bradley. I have acted as an agent for both offers, the regeneration department of the council (Nick Kavannagh and Mark Kitts are aware of it, as are Neptune Developments as is Joe Anderson. There is nothing illogical or meaningless about this and either of my previous comments - and I am not anonymous.

John BradleyMarch 10th 2015.

Then I suggest you make them public or persuade your clients to do so, so they can be judged.

John BradleyMarch 10th 2015.

Being an actor is hardly indicative of the kind of person used to make a serious commercial approach.

JR TolkeinMarch 12th 2015.

Bradley, why do you make these idiotic personal comments about people who you don't even know and then accuse others of being a bully? Do you realise how inadequate you make yourself look? Even if you were right (which you aren't) the whole world would take the opposite point of view. You are a troll and a menace.

John BradleyMarch 12th 2015.

Which personal comments where these? If your taking comments personally the perhaps it is because they fit you.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

I notice that the mayor only offered an opinion when he could clearly see which way public opinion was going. following not leading.

London RoadMarch 9th 2015.

The aspect down Lime Street is made even worse as at the end you can see one of the finest neoclassical buildings in the world, St George's Hall. Please don't let this happen.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Can we please bulldoze St. George's Hall

RolypolyMarch 9th 2015.

Regeneration Cabinet Member Malcolm Kennedy says it can’t be afforded as it would add several millions to the cost of creating a new-look Lime Street. He never said this when Sainsbury, revised the Project Jennifer plan, demanding the council relocate Greaty Market, to Dryden St, which set the council back £2.2m in pandering to this demand plus a further £1/2m to create another car park because the one they built is totally inadequate. Might I add still not a spade in the ground, following the photo shoot in November last, the day after Sainsbury announced they were discontinuing any new builds! Now its going to be all systems go in the summer. Yes you can fool some of the people, but not all of the people

efcmark777March 9th 2015.

Its all about opinion of course. I think the cinema "facade" is ugly and prefer even that dull red concrete block ! I really like those carbuncles at the Pier Head and even really like Liverpool One. I don't like squalid crumbling buildings that make our city look tired and unwelcoming. Lime St fits that description. Oh and i can still say that and "like" the magnificent St Georges Hall, the Walker buildings and the three Graces and whats been done at the Albert Dock. Lime St on balance wasn't / isn't one for a historical fight, its one for the bulldozer and a new look thats modern and vibrant and where you can safely and comfortably walk around. Its all about balance. History is not to be ignored but it cannot surely always "win out" ? Sometimes, and Lime St feels like one of those, new and modern is the way forward. Saying that I suspect that theres a better scheme out there, but if so then allowing a preferred bidder such carte blanche often gets you close to "make do" when money is tight and ROI some way off the top end of the scale.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Concourse House was "new and modern" and in Lime Street. But that was 'different' I suppose?

Maggie MayMarch 9th 2015.

Perhaps if successive Councils had done their job properly and used their legal powers to compel the owners of empty properties to keep them in an adequate state of repair the former Futurist would not be in such a 'dangerous' state. Surely, if the Futurist is so dangerous it has to be demolished before it falls down - as they are implying - there would be scaffolding all over the frontage and the pavement closed to pedestrians. The Lewis's building was in this state for ages and there was no talk of that being likely to fall down.

9 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyMarch 9th 2015.

The scaffold on Lewis's was while the building was being refurbished. There was never any claim that Lewis' building was dangerous. Anyone with the slightest interest in the area would have known this.

AnemoiMarch 9th 2015.

It seems that more big, heavy, dangerous bits fall off John Bradley's favourite, brand-new, trendy, jerry-built novelties than fall off unfashionably older and wilfully neglected buildings. Perhaps there's a lesson in that for him?

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

If we follow that logic there'd be no space travel and we'd all travel in horse drawn carts? Cos the past was so much better eh?

John BradleyMarch 9th 2015.

The problem with Anemoi world view is that ignored the fact that all buildings through out history have had teething problems to the extent that in some cases they fell down.

AnemoiMarch 9th 2015.

That is just playground cat-calling gibberish. How does it relate to my comment?

John BradleyMarch 9th 2015.

Actually what you just did is more in keeping with the play ground.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Playground is all one word John

John BradleyMarch 10th 2015.

If only people where like you , WW1 and WW2 where only caused by people forgetting to cross Ts and dot Is, you such a boon to the world.

Standards are slippingMarch 10th 2015.

Were, where and we're

Robert MacdonaldMarch 9th 2015.

Dear Mr Bradley, It would assist the "serious" architectural and design debate if you could please describe the qualities of the Whole Lime Street project in your own "architectural language". Until such critical appreciation takes place the discussion will remain shallow and ill informed. Only when the public, Councillors and Mayor deeply appreciate the proposals will a robust Architecture prevail. Dr Robert G MacDonald BA (1st Class) BArch (1st Class) Liverpool University PHD, RIBA, ARB, PFRSA. Reader in Architecture, President Emeritus Liverpool Architectural Society, Chair RIBA Merseyside Branch, Roscoe Citizenship Award, Presented by Lord David Alton Roscoe Foundation.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Hear hear!

John BradleyMarch 9th 2015.

Firstly I don't think the area needs and more retail/restaurants it needs more residential whether that is students/homes or hotels it needs people. The problems of the centre if town are cause by the depopulation of Liverpool which has simply removed the clientèle from the cinemas on the street. The futurist is really of historic interest not architectural. It is a fairly typical of it's time building. Grafting it on to a new building makes little sense, the frontage needs to be dismantled and put in storage till same use can be found for it. The theme of the entire street excluding the bookends and the Futurist, is simple clean lines, from the Art Deco Forum/ABC, late 40/60s modernist of 58-60, Lime Street and the old Peter Robinson/Arm & Navy Store building on one side and on the other what look like the remains of The Scala and what look like the original late Georgian early Victorian buildings. If it was me I'd restore some of the frontages on the earlier buildings to look like something more in keeping with their age, and replace what needs to go with something inspired by art deco/modernism The frontage needs to a have a height the is in keeping with the rest of the street but I don't see why it shouldn't have the floors about 4 stepped back. Then I would light it all like in this picture c1.staticflickr.com/…/431478332_c12a11343f_z.jpg… John Bradley CSE, GCE O, GCE A, Hnd(Comp), BSc(Open), PITA.

Nikolaus PevsnerMarch 9th 2015.

Knocking down landmark multi-use buildings of dignity suited to a city centre and replacing them with overbearing boxy doss houses for students is the manifestation of Margaret Thatcher’s notorious “managed decline” for Liverpool. Joe and his developer pals seem only to be intending to patch the place up for a few years, rather than planning inspiring buildings of sufficient quality, style and status to be worthy of the location, let alone promoting any confidence in the future. If you are mending a fence with cheaper, inferior wood, you’d at least put it around the back out of sight.

Robert MacdonaldMarch 9th 2015.

Nicholaus Pevsner There's a name to build with ! "Outline of European Architecture " first book I was ever presented with from Anfield Comprehensive. Also "Architecture by the Comparative Method" by Bannister Flecher FROM the Weller Streets Housing Cooperative.Unfortunately, the vast majority of Councillors and developers in Liverpool are not aware of the Meaning of Architecture. Dr Robert G MacDonald RIBA

Nikolaus PevsnerMarch 9th 2015.

Ooer - rumbled!

Purple AkiMarch 9th 2015.

John Bradley wrote: "Firstly I don't think..." Well that's something we CAN agree on!

John Bradleys mumMarch 9th 2015.

Get off that computer John its past your bed time

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Please this isn't funny, we all know Mrs Bradley is very busy running her motel while John attends to his taxidermy

Claire in the CommunityMarch 9th 2015.

Needless to say there's no father in his life...

Gladys MitchellMarch 9th 2015.

Little Johnny is one of Mrs. Bradley's Mysteries...

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Mr and Mrs Bradley remain married after 70 years, they did plan to divorce but neither wanted primary custody of John.

Pin BallMarch 9th 2015.

Soon the whole of Liverpool City Centre and the Pier Head, not to mention all our cultural assets such as the museums and art galleries and the rest, will be bought up by the same clueless blinkered and creatively redundant architects and developers and turned into yet more [student] APARTMENTS. Oh yes indeed. I predict maybe by 2030 at the earliest.... Apartments and flats - that's where it's all at now isn't it? I won't even waste any further breath expressing my opinion on this travesty I see here, suffice to say, these charlatans are a complete insult to their chosen profession.

Robert MacdonaldMarch 9th 2015.

If anybody in Liverpool is actually concerned with Architecture and Quality Urban Design they will know that all the issues need to be debated by all sides in a Public Democratic Forum. Unfortunately this requires shared urban rules and good neighbours. Clearly, what I said to Liverpool Confidential has touched many nerves. I am happy with the outcome. Dr Robert G MacDonald

2 Responses: Reply To This...
London RoadMarch 9th 2015.

Hear hear!

Lord StreetMarch 10th 2015.

Stout fellow!

Reader XxxMarch 10th 2015.

Thank goodness for Robert Macdonald. He is right. We want the same standards in Lime Street as we have welcomed in Liverpool One.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Has anybody noticed something about this and similar threads (ie green spaces). The politicians put there to serve and represent their constituents actually rule us. We have, not for the first time, sleep walked into our city being ruled by a dictator and politburo form of governance. When it dawns on people, they will be driven out of office. How about listening to what the people say for a change. The grim reality is that in May what's left of the small opposition will be decimated to make the stranglehold even tighter.

Prof. Chucklebutty RIB ENAMarch 11th 2015.

This is getting silly now. I could sort out the row over saving the Futurist with one phone call. Phone the developers who handled preserving the ornate front of the Education Offices or Josephine Butler House to take a sledgehammer to it over the weekend. Watch out for the tarpaulin going up.

Josie MullenMarch 11th 2015.

There is a way, and that is a Referendum to get rid of Anderson. It only takes circa 16,000 signatures. I have put together twenty pages of his broken promises and lies that I will show anyone who wishes to see it. What the hell are we doing with a Mayor/leader who Tweets "If shit was wit mate- you would be constipated" and "Karl...........your mates a lunatic liar"

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyMarch 11th 2015.

That you cannot get the signatures, shows how much this mass anger is a figment of yours and some other G&T addled minds.

AnonymousMarch 12th 2015.

I thought it was supposed to be 60.000 not 16,000

Ramsey CampbellMarch 11th 2015.

Just a wry thought - another way to improve Lime Street would be for someone to wrest the Adelphi away from the deplorable Britannia chain and bring it up to standard. Alas, I'm only dreaming while awake.

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