Centric House Cert p.Cert

Cert bought the building in 2018. Credit: via Cert Property

Liverpool doubles down on CERT office-to-resi rejection

A lack of affordable homes was once again the downfall of the Centric House scheme, which was refused by the city council’s planning committee in a five-to-three vote.

CERT Property had wanted to convert the vacant office block off Moorfields into 45 apartments with either one or two bedrooms. None of these would be designated affordable, which councillors bristled at. The lack of affordable housing was because of viability concerns.

The developer had purchased Centric House in 2018 for £3.3m. Since then, the building has never reached more than 15% occupancy as an office complex, according to a planning statement by consultant Enabl.

That is why CERT had opted to go the resi route, filing an application for the conversion in 2022 to Liverpool City Council. Falconer Chester Hall designed the project, with Vectos as the transport consultant and Hann Tucker as the noise impact assessor.

The refusal on Tuesday is a replica of the results of  4 June’s planning committee meeting. With two dismissals in a row, the project from CERT has been firmly rejected – despite planning officers recommending it for approval.

Citing both the lack of affordable housing and Section 106 contributions for open space and trees, city councillors voted to reject the project.

CERT declined to comment on the results.

You can learn more about the project by searching application reference number 22F/3516 on Liverpool City Council’s planning portal.

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By The Tarantula

Yes, because expensive city centre locations are just the place for affordable housing, aren’t they?
I’m afraid all this does is undermine Cllr Robinson’s efforts to reposition the authority as sensible, moderate and market-facing. Why bother investing in the city? I know I wouldn’t.

By More Anonymous than the others

No affordable homes, or no homes at all?

By Anonymous

I wonder if this will go to an appeal and cost LCC more money?
Seems old habits still exist at the planning department.
I hope this doesn’t deter other developers?

By Liverpolitis

This Council is now back to it’s old tricks, the councillors who are holding back the city now have a new weapon to stall development ie asking for 20% affordable housing, which even London doesn’t get.
All or most of the new positivism that Liam Robinson and his new team of directors brought has begun to evaporate, we have no great projects about to happen .This planning committee is famous for dragging out applications, even small ones like Itsu wanting to open a cafe on Paradise St was held up because they didn’t like the awnings, so Itsu get fed up and abandoned it.

By Anonymous

Typical LCC. When will they realise this is a CITY centre. Not the outskirts where affordable housing should be.. Will we ever get shut or this bad management

By Eric

Wait when Labour get into N10 LCC will be rubbing their hands lah

By Anonymous

Wow . Some things never change .

By Anonymous

How many affordable homes does the vacant office block have?

By Anonymous

I thought we were over this. Looks like same old same old.

By Anonymous

A defeat for the avaricious property developers. Makes a change.

By Dave Downey

It’s time for Julia to get in front of Liam Robinson and ask him directly what he intends to do to control his planning committee. Because until he does, no-one’s going to listen to what he says about being ‘open for business’.

By Anonymous

So the council planning department would prefer an empty under utilised office building than have a vibrant new residential building with a few less “affordable” units they wished for-
The council have engineered a situation of the lowest order to suit their ideological nonsense

By Stuart wood

Dear PNW – I have read through the articles, Planning Statement, DAS, and committee report and there’s no mention of office to residential permitted development rights. Am I missing something, or can’t they simply do this development under the prior approval process (whereby the Council cannot assess against the Local Plan or require affordable contributions?). If that’s the case, then it’s a glaring oversight from the project team and a realistic fallback option that should have been made clear to the committee members.

By Anonymous

We will all still vote Labour regardless to the catastrophic damage they have done to the city .

By )

Once again the council turning away investment opportunities and growth Clearly nothing has changed. Every comment posted about this decision has been the same. Inadequate, time and time again.

By Anonymous

Is there a way of finding out which Councillors voted to reject the application? This isn’t obvious from the Printed Minutes.


Like Anon 9.51, I’ve looked at the application docs and also can’t see any reference to why CERT just didn’t go down the Permitted Development Rights route, which seems to have worked perfectly well for many other Liverpool schemes (quality & space standards of some of them being another matter).
Possibly that by trying to squash in as many units as possible, the big boxes replacing a lot of the pitched roof take it beyond straight conversion territory?
This is also another CERT scheme where the Viability Assesment submitted calls into question the viability of the scheme even without any affordable housing contribution, so not sure why the Committee should be too concerned about the figures provided, if they don’t seem to be putting the applicant off pressing ahead.

By Rotringer

@ Dave Downey, “Avaricious” , why don’t you just say greedy, so I take it you don’t like developers who make a profit? This company bought the office block and tried to make a go of it but got no takers, how can that be greed. They have spent money upgrading the building and now want to see if it works as residential, is that greed too?
I bet if ever you’ve sold a house you wanted the highest price you could get, or if you bought one you wanted the cheapest price. It’s called business and it makes this world tick over better than any system I know.

By Anonymous

It is not the Council’s (i.e. council taxpayers) responsibility to subsidise this developer. CERT needs to take responsibility and sort this out. The Council are not asking for anything unusual.

As for affordable housing being in city centres, why not? Is it only the preserve of the well off to live in city centres.


If profit-driven developers are pursuing schemes which will supposedly be loss-making, why should councils pay any heed to claims affordable housing contributions will make developments loss-making and unviable? The numbers are obvs a load of rubbish

By Anonymous

Regarding the point on PD rights, I assume it’s because it has taken so long for the Council to determine the application, and at the time it was submitted PD rights for office to resi conversion were limited to 1,500sqm. As soon as that limit was lifted earlier this year, the planning consultant should have been all over it, getting a prior approval submitted as a realistic and legitimate fallback option – it’s not like they didn’t already have the plans and supporting documents available! At the very least, I would have expected an addendum to the Planning Statement and reference to the fallback option in the report to committee.


Remember all that woeful affordable housing that was built in the city centre in the Derek Hatton era , most of it is purchased now, and a fair few sold, at a profit.
Liverpool as a city has tons of affordable housing, have a look on Rightmove.

By Anonymous

“Open for business”

By Anonymous

The biggest issue with the marketability of the building as an office, is how horrendous the surrounding area is in terms of anti-social behaviour, the number of derelict sites and buildings and the poor quality entrance/exit to Moorfields.

Whilst I don’t agree with the decision, you only have to look at the old Norwich Union office building (Two Moorfields) opposite to see the issue of poor quality residential conversions….

By Eddie P

The regular group of councillors present who find fault with most developments suggested there was no compliance with the Section 106 requirements in terms of lack of trees and landscaping, but how do you provide that in an already constructed building, it’s pure obstinacy. There were 9 councillors present at this committee with just 2 items on the agenda, and the other one was pretty minor.

By Anonymous

Liverpool planning are a SHAMBLES!!!!! We are being left behind by other northern cities, and we have stalled sites throughout the city… we need to allow developers & investors to help regenerate the city.

By Anonymous

The planning officers passed this, but the tail that wags the dog, ie untrained, politically motivated , councillors said no.This has happened so many times in Liverpool eg Romal at Waterloo Dock, the golf club hotel in Woolton etc.
We have the LCR Mayor constantly waffling about world-class this, that, and the other, but the city at the core of the region, Liverpool, is dictated to by a section of councillors hell bent on keeping Liverpool a 3rd class city so as to appeal to their local electorate, don’t forget too they are elected on very small turn-outs, but the people to blame there are the lethargic voters.

By Anonymous

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