Liverpool calls for ‘tall buildings for the right sites’

Liverpool City Council is looking to appoint a consultant to draw up a full tall buildings policy, which it said would need to “promote well-designed tall buildings for the right sites” while “respecting the significance” of the city’s World Heritage status.

The city council’s Local Plan is currently being prepared, having been submitted for independent examination in May this year following consultation in March.

The council is now looking to appoint a consultant to prepare a full tall buildings policy document in response to Historic England, which argued the Local Plan should not be approved without a review and additional evidence to support a full tall buildings policy.

In its response to the draft Local Plan, Historic England said the existing policy on tall buildings “appears to support the development of tall buildings everywhere in the city, subject to meeting certain requirements which could be applied anywhere in the country, and does not provide a locally specific policy for Liverpool”.

“For a city with such a distinctive waterfront, it is critical that any tall building developments are appropriately sited and that they are designed to relate sensitively to the World Heritage Site and other designated heritage assets across the city,” the response continued.

“At present, the tall building policy as drafted does not provide a sufficiently robust or clear framework to identify locations across the city where future tall buildings might be appropriate or inappropriate, or what scale of buildings might be appropriate.”

In response, Liverpool City Council has agreed to procure a consultant team in an £80,000 contract to provide a fully updated tall buildings policy, with procurement to start next month.

The council said there was “no alternative” but to update the Local Plan to reflect Historic England’s concerns, as otherwise the Local Plan would “almost certainly” be ruled as unsound by the planning inspector.

Four key considerations will form part of the updated policy, which will look to:

  • Promote well designed tall buildings for the right sites
  • Ensure that new development is managed so that the setting of historic buildings and areas is taken into account
  • Ensure that new development respects the significance of the World Heritage Site and is appropriate to its townscape context
  • Protects and promotes key visual relationships, panoramas and vistas

Historic England have suggested the updated tall buildings policy should set out where such buildings should be permitted, along with specific design considerations for each of these sites and suggested height considerations from the council.

The tallest building currently under construction in the city is Elliot Group’s 39-storey Infinity scheme on Leeds Street, which also includes a further two towers of 33 and 27 storeys.

The current World Heritage status, which was retained in June this year, stipulates that no new construction in the World Heritage Site reaches higher than the existing buildings, while any new construction at Pier Head should “not dominate, but complement” existing buildings.

Although the city retained its World Heritage status, it remains on a list of “sites in danger”, a position it has held since Peel’s Liverpool Waters scheme was approved in 2012.

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