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Where there's a mill there's a way

Grade II listed Heaps rice complex at heart of re-drawn plans for 800 homes, says Seychelles developer

Published on September 12th 2014.

Where there's a mill there's a way

THEY said it couldn't be done, but now it seems that where there's a will - and a mill - there's a way.

Heap's rice mill, which was saved from demolition by a Grade II listing just six weeks ago, is set to be be refurbished and may be turned into apartments, under new plans submitted to Liverpool City Council.

And the developer behind the idea is the same one who was wielding the wrecking ball just two months ago and whose plans sparked a race against time by heritage campaigners to keep the derelict building standing.

Pressing ahead with plans for the £130m residential-led scheme, Seychelles-based One Park Lane described the site in and around the rice mill, on Beckwith Street, as “one of the last prime waterfront sites in Liverpool city centre”.

It has come up with a new set of drawings which, it says, not only includes the refurbishment of the mill complex but which makes a feature out of its history, including tree planters in the streets designed to resemble rice sacks.

: No rice millThe old plan: No rice mill

If approved, the mill, described by Government watchdog English Heritage as "an important physical reminder of Liverpool's  rich trading links and mercantile history" will sit among a development of 800 homes, many of them social housing rentals, and 12,000 sq ft of leisure and retail units, all arranged around a new public space provisionally called Baltic Square.

Originally, the plans saw seven towers, now there are four comprising a 14 storey block on the corner of Park Lane and Liver Street, and three 10 storey buildings, together with the mill buildings.

But only last month One Park Lane, which wanted to demolish the mill, warned that the scheme was not viable if the mill remained.

Spokesman Elliot Lawless, speaking to online 'zine The Business Desk, said: “ It’s important to understand that without grant to stabilise the building and help reconfigure its interior it simply isn’t viable in the current market.  Values aren’t high enough to justify the investment needed. 

He added: “There’s a further risk that our funding partners switch their focus to schemes that can offer a more immediate return.”

Now, following "constructive talks" the tack appears to have changed.

Adam Hall of Liverpool-based architects Falconer Chester Hall, said: “Since Heap’s mill was spot listed we have been working with English Heritage and Liverpool City Council to find a solution for designing the high quality new development which will complement and help secure the restoration of the mill. We believe the submitted application achieves this.  We have been in a productive dialogue with all parties for a number of months now and are delighted with the outcome.

The new plan: with rice millThe new plan: with rice mill

 “The scheme will open up the space in front of the mills, allowing the buildings to breathe.  We’ve opted for a tree-lined avenue from the site’s Park Lane frontage to maximise the development’s permeability and I think the public will love Baltic Square.  There are some really nice touches, such as the tree planters designed to resemble the rice sacks that used to be lugged around the site on men’s shoulders.”

He added: The homes will be for private rental and market rent through a social landlord, with the remaining block housing serviced apartments.  In the mill there may be opportunities to develop larger apartments for sale."

Lawless said: “The funding issue was complicated by the challenges posed by the mill buildings’ condition but the very constructive discussions we’ve enjoyed with the council and English Heritage over the last three months has given us confidence we can bring the scheme forward.  We have a number of other opportunities in Liverpool and I’m sure this project will stand us all in good stead.”

“Now the building is listed we are examining how we can ensure it is watertight and fit for the winter months and the tough weather ahead."

It is anticipated the council planning committee could be in a position to consider the application by October 28, OPL said in a statement.

From J Lewis Car ParkFrom J Lewis Car Park

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

SaladDazeSeptember 12th 2014.

Will there be poor doors?

April JonesSeptember 12th 2014.

where are all the jobs in order to pay the rental? just saying

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 12th 2014.

Is it still 1983 then?

John BradleySeptember 12th 2014.

It is 1983 and that's the time that it's always been

AnonymousSeptember 12th 2014.

Conditions normal, I'm going home

John BradleySeptember 13th 2014.

Interesting to read one man band Wayne Poltroons take on the matter. He seems to be claiming the listing as a victory for his group, but seems to say the new scheme doesn't cover the area in nearly enough aspic.

MeganSeptember 16th 2014.

Have the residents of the flats that look out onto Park Lane viewed the new plans? If they haven't then they should as their view of the Lane will be no more. The glass buildings will be higher than the Mill and will totally dominate Park Lane. Does the city centre need anymore money putting into it?Why can't areas in other parts of the city be used so the local economy can be revitalised? This area does not need to be saturated with more empty flats. Also, the 'famous' view of the skyline from the Wirral will be no more as the new buildings will obscure the Metropolitan Cathedral! Regenerate the area by all means, but do it sensitively. You only have to look at the monstrosities that are the black boxes on Mann Island to see how badly modern flats look against old buildings.

1 Response: Reply To This...
mickeydrippinSeptember 16th 2014.

Wherever development is proposed for Liverpool, it seems that local residents and/or heritage groups will always object. Residents' will say that views from their lounges will be obscured or their local - often unused - green space will disappear. Wayne Colquhoun and his "group" will probably object to the style of buildings being proposed. Whilst any objections must be heard, critics should always come up with some proposals of their own or else, they will be labelled "moaners" and "nimbies" If Joe Anderson and the Council always back down when any objections are raised, the city will not develop for the future and will once again plummet into a period of stagnation.

Jiggery PokerySeptember 23rd 2014.

A Seychelles-based developer is getting the job? Surely it is against Council rules to pay public money to a private sector contractor that does not pay British taxes? Especially when there are local contractors who do? Isn't Council spending audited? All such arrangements surely must be open and accountable. This isn't Chicago in the 1930s - or is it?

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleySeptember 24th 2014.

What are you on?

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