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Exclusive: Heaps Rice Mill faces bulldozer

Race against time to get building listed as plans surface for massive flats scheme

Written by . Published on June 17th 2014.

Exclusive: Heaps Rice Mill faces bulldozer


ONE of the oldest buildings in Liverpool’s World Heritage Site – Heap’s Rice Mill – will be bulldozed as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment plan lodged by a company registered in the Seychelles. 

A planning application has been lodged by One Park Lane Ltd who want to clear the site and build 515 apartments in five blocks between 10 and 25 storeys in height. 

Today Peter Brown, chairman of Merseyside Civic Society, said it was now a race against time to save  what is an important building within the World Heritage Site standing in the city’s Baltic triangle area. 

Last month - and unaware of the planned massive scheme - The Merseyside Civic Society put a bid in with English Heritage to have the mill spot listed on the grounds of its architectural and historical importance. 

It emerged this morning that the Government watchdog has earmarked the listing application as a "hot case" which could pave the way for its speedy preservation. 

Even so, the big fear is the mill could be removed before that process is concluded. 


Zz18062014flatsThe proposed development


Dr Brown told Liverpool Confidential: “When we made our application a few months ago for spot listing we were totally unaware of this proposed scheme. We just felt the mill was vulnerable and needed protecting.  Not only is it an important building within the World Heritage Site, it is a fine example of Liverpool’s maritime history and a virtually intact structure.

"I am shocked to hear of these new proposals. It would be a great loss to Liverpool’s historic waterfront.” 

Today, acknowledging the civic society bid to have the mill listed, Victora Ellis of English Heritage, says in a letter to Dr Brown:  "We were aware of proposals to develop the site and were expecting applications for the works to be submitted and it is useful to know that these are now with the Council.

"We have been treating this as a ‘Hot’ case, which means it takes priority over our more standard cases, and we have arranged to visit the property early in July." 

Heritage campaigner Wayne Colquhoun said: “It is ironic this scheme has emerged as Unesco is meeting in Doha, Qatar, to discuss Liverpool’s World Heritage Status.  In the past few years nearly 50 listed buildings in Liverpool have been demolished.  If they pull down Heap’s Rice Mill it could be the move that costs us the WHS title. 

“As an apprentice I worked on the police headquarters and at that time Heap’s Rice Mill was surrounded by a collection of beautiful buildings housing sail makers, French polishers, maritime merchants.  Heap’s Rice Mill is virtually all that is left.  Let us hope there are enough people in this city who care about it and who consider Liverpool has gone too far. Heap’s could be Liverpool’s Alamo in our fight to protect and preserve what remains of our heritage.” 

The rice mill has been unused for some years and was last at the centre of attention some years ago when the go-ahead was given by Liverpool’s Planning Committee to convert the old brick mill into hundreds of apartments. 

The building dates to around 1780 when Joseph Heap established his rice mill. That would make the building more than 200 years old, constructed during an age when sailing ships dominated the city’s growing dockland. 

The same company have made a second application to build two blocks of between 10 and 20 storeys to create 284 apartments on the nearby site once occupied by the uniform suppliers, Greenbergs. That prominently building was demolished some years ago and the cleared site is now used as a surface car park. 

Details of both schemes, in the name of One Park Lane Ltd, with an address in the Indian Ocean island, have been lodged with Liverpool City Council’s planning department. Plans for both envisage commercial activities  - such as bars, cafes,  gymnasiums - at street levels.

The Merseyside Civic Society case for spot listing can be read in full here.

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

Mary SpringJune 17th 2014.

They must save this! We have enough of the poor quality rubbish that is being churned out. So many fabulous buildings went in Manchester during the boom - we still have some of ours. Lets keep them please!

Phillip LawlerJune 17th 2014.

I can never take Wayne Colqhoun seriously. Especially after visiting his ranting website/blog - Liverpool preservation trust. When considering this building for conservation we have to make a distinction between a historical asset and really crappy old building. This building is a rotten shell and no-one has shown an interest in it for decades. It is in no fit shape for conversion to anything meaningful. There is a proposal to knock it down and build fresh apartments in a style inspired by the old warehouse. The current ruin serves no purpose other than to provide a small tidbit of the cities past. It would be better consigned to a history book rather than occupy a prime space on the waterfront as an eyesore.

1 Response: Reply To This...
EditorialJune 17th 2014.

This thread isn't about Wayne Colqhoun. It is about the issue of Heaps Rice Mill and there are plenty of other parties quoted above. Any more personal comments will be removed.

Paul WardJune 17th 2014.

Let it go - the Mayor won't be happy until the city centre is nothing but half-empty concrete and glass apartment blocks with the occasional Tesco Metro.

Phillip LawlerJune 17th 2014.

Paul, there are a lot of projects on the go at the moment that are re-using old buildings and bringing them back to life to serve modern purposes. Look at the restoration work going on to the Royal Insurance building, Albion House, Stanley Dock, the municipal annexe, the old magistrates prison on Dale Street, the central village project, Martins Bank building, the Bunker on Edge Lane and plenty of projects around Ropewalks and Chinatown. Yes, we are losing some old buildings but a lot of work has taken place to preserve the buildings we have especially if there is scope for modern use.

AnonymousJune 17th 2014.

Thanks to LC and LN for bringing this to the attention of the public. Must we destroy more of our heritage for crappy flats??! (That's if the scheme is even for that, and not just for the bricks and to sit on the land until prices go up...)

SaladDazeJune 17th 2014.

A new development for a tax avoider. My! That would be something! I hope Mayor Joe will ask Peel Westminster Holdings Inc to adjudicate.

Dave MurphyJune 17th 2014.

Stinks of Mayor Anderson's involvement - like every other sell off, of the City's history and Heritage at the moment!

LeonJune 17th 2014.

The destruction of these buildings is a crime against the history of Liverpool and all inhabitants. These buildings are beautiful and in them is the soul of the city of Liverpool. There are places for new museums and art galleries, and more.

Preston NorthendJune 17th 2014.

Why can't they knock down some of those crappy light industrial units in the Baltic (so-called) creative quarter instead?

AnonymousJune 17th 2014.

This comment has been deemed inappropriate by editorial staff, and has been removed.

John BradleyJune 17th 2014.

So Dave what is the city selling off, it doesn't own the site. The reason this company cannot knock down stuff in the Baltic Triangle is because it doesn't own them, it owns this site. Hopefully it will be listed, but a use has to be found for it otherwise in another 10 years it will fall down without any assistance.

AnonymousJune 18th 2014.

Mr Bradley makes a very good point. The building is empty because nobody wants, or needs it. If we as a city want to retain buildings like this we will have to dig deep. The government should pay for buildings like this to be preserved and re-invented

AnonymousJune 18th 2014.

Recycled bricks from old warehouses like this make a fortune. So if it is pulled down or falls down someone is gonna make a packet.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 18th 2014.

Is this a big buisiness packet, and Arthur Saley packet or a Del Boy packet?

John BradleyJune 18th 2014.

If the recycling of bricks is a goer, who will get the bricks from the clearing of the Vine Street yard? The site belongs to the council, so presumably the buildings do. If the bricks have value, then they and other materials should be kept by the council for reuse within the city. If we cannot keep all the buildings, we should at least keep the materials.

John RowlandsJune 30th 2014.

Please support our online petition to oppose destruction of the building,which has so much potential.Too much of our heritage has been destroyed-we are not opposed to commercial development, but why does it have to mean demolition? Please sign the petition. www.facebook.com/SaveHeapsRiceMill… John Rowlands Save Heaps Mill

Christine HulmeJuly 8th 2014.

We know the company is in the seychelles but where is his bank account Belguim ? Try demolishing La Tour d EFFIEL

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 8th 2014.

That well known belguim (sic) landmark?

AnonymousJuly 9th 2014.

It must really puzzle developers when a place sits there in a state of slow decay with no-one doing a thing about it, then when someone with a bit of go in them has an idea, everyone else knew better all along and were just keeping their great ideas to themselves? Odd

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 9th 2014.

Very good point

John BradleyJuly 9th 2014.

Liverpool is a bit of a toxic spot for having ideas, a large chunk of the population is against anything changing. Then there are the various pressure groups who have agendas, which stop anything they don't like. Then the one man bands pretending to be groups. People haven't been keeping great ideas to themselves, they haven't actually suggested anything to replace this scheme. If they really cared about the building, then the campaign would have started the minute it stopped being a mill. Converting this to the Museum of Liverpool would have been better than the current site, but the Meuseums want a nice shiny new building, it is what their agenda called for.

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