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Liverpool Waters: From Peel to Pickles

Waiting game begins as plans for controversial scheme put in minister's hands

Written by . Published on October 8th 2012.


Liverpool Waters: From Peel to Pickles

THE fate of Peel’s £5.5bn Liverpool Waters scheme is finally in the hands of the Government’s local government secretary, Eric Pickles. 

With mouth-watering prospects of 20,000 jobs, three million square feet of commercial space and homes for 9,000 people, the city council is eager for an early thumbs-up from the no-nonsense Yorkshireman. 

Pickles has the authority to order an independent public inquiry into the scheme. Although the minister can waive that requirement, it is usual for mega projects to be tested in this way. 

But Peel says if such an inquiry is ordered it will abandon the whole project.

Piggy in the middle is the inconvenient fact the disused and largely derelict Central Docks system is one of the key elements of Liverpool’s World Heritage Site.

'This is the biggest planning application
the city council has ever considered,
running to thousands of pages. It
has been extremely important to
get the detail of the conditions right
before submitting it to Government'

Unesco has already placed Liverpool’s WHS on the “at risk” register because of the Peel development. 

Unsurprisingly, the city council says it and Peel are “hopeful of a positive early response” from Mr Pickles. 

The council’s planning committee initially granted planning permission for the scheme in March, with a number of conditions - including those relating to timescales, the heights of buildings and phasing of works.  

Since March the council and Peel have worked together to re-visit some of the proposed conditions. Just two weeks ago, the Town Hall again unanimously backed the project, paving the way for submission to the Government. 

Joe AndersonJoe AndersonMayor Joe Anderson said: "This is the biggest planning application the city council has ever considered, running to thousands of pages. It has been extremely important to get the detail of the conditions right before submitting the application to Government. 

"I’m delighted we are now delivering these plans which I am confident will fully convey to the Secretary of State our ability to deliver this vitally important regeneration scheme, while protecting our architectural heritage.” 

Liverpool Waters and its sister project Wirral Waters are already part of one of the first four Government "Enterprise Zones". 

Peel's delopment director, Lindsey Ashworth, said: "This has been an extremely complicated project to get to this stage. There have been no precedents that we can draw from for guidance as it is a totally unique scheme, quite befitting for a unique city. 

Lindsey AshworthLindsey Ashworth"We have diligently worked through every word and every sentence with the officers of Liverpool City Council to get the conditions to a stage where all the control mechanisms are in place, but not so over-restrictive that it frightens off potentially interested investors or tenants. 

"We are confident that our Government will share the same view so we can all move on to create a new addition to this fantastic waterfront and perhaps, more importantly,create thousands of jobs for local people over many decades." 

What will be interesting to see is the response to Liverpool Waters of the Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

DCMS is charged by Unesco with overall responsibility for minding all WHS sites in the UK, including Liverpool.

Meanwhile, the Government’s own cultural watchdog, English Heritage, has already been highly critical of the impact Liverpool Waters will have on the World Heritage Site, with a stinging attack last month.

Liverpool Waters - 40-Year PlanLiverpool Waters - 40-year planIn the end, it will come down to a culture-versus-jobs issue. The gap between what will satisfy English Heritage and what the council and Peel want to see built is wider than the Grand Canyon. 

Liverpool Waters is, though, such a long term scheme that even if Pickles gives the go-ahead it is likely to be decades before WHS status is threatened with actual removal. 

It could well be a problem to be faced by the children or even the grandchildren of today’s decision makers and citizens – if it is seen, by then, as a problem at all. 


 

Further comment and backgrounder here and here.

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Barry WilkinsonOctober 30th 2012.

Its nowt to do with the pickle..Manchester say's we shouldnt have it..so there you go.

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