Liveprool sunset, Liverpool, p PNW

Could the sun be setting on the days of poor design in Liverpool. Credit: PNW

Liverpool moves to raise standard of housing design

An “aspirational” design guide outlining how homes should look and function across the city could be adopted by the end of next year, part of the city council’s ambition to deliver the “highest standard” of development. 

Liverpool City Council’s proposed design guide should “promote sustainable and inclusive high-quality design, that reflects the city’s distinctive character and context”, according to tender documents. 

It is hoped that the adoption of the framework will raise the standards of design across the city, prompting developers and architects to up their game.

The city council is seeking to appoint a multidisciplinary team on an 18-month, £80,000 contract to draw up the strategic planning document.  

Subject to relevant approvals, it could be adopted by December 2024. 

Cllr Sarah Doyle, Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for housing, said that the winning design team would have a “unique opportunity” to be part of the modernisation of Liverpool, which is expected to grow by more than 30,000 people over the coming decade. 

“We need to ensure that the new homes and neighbourhoods we create are delivered to the highest standard,” she said. 

“This residential design guide will be a key stepping stone to ensuring the delivery of high-quality placemaking and urban design. It’s a vital piece of work which will define the look and feel of the city as it grows.” 

The design guide will cover the whole city, supporting the Liverpool Local Plan, adopted in 2022 and feeding into a suite of frameworks that guide development across the city.  

These include the Public Realm Strategy, emerging Tall Buildings SPD and a number of place-specific SPDs, like the one for the Baltic Triangle. 

The design guide SPD will set an “aspirational vision for the city’s residential neighbourhoods”, according to tender documents. 

The brief also states that “city-specific design principles must clearly define how design will reinforce ‘place’ and respond to the climate emergency in Liverpool”. 

The city’s aspirations around net zero carbon, social value, and active travel should also be factored into the document. 

To learn more about what is going on in Liverpool and the wider city region, book on to Place North West’s Liverpool City Region Development Update.

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Very laudable. However, improved standards cost more to deliver and will require raised rents to pass the viability tests, so we need to hear the council’s plans for supporting higher-value economic growth that supports enhanced wage rates. We NEVER hear them talk in these terms, which suggests that (a) they never think about it; and (b) they don’t really understand the concept. It’s like putting the cart before the economic horse.

By Sceptical

18 months and £80k to buy time whilst they reject applications, so once published we’re all clearer on the reasons why they’ll reject applications.

By Anonymous

@Sceptical – improved standards only costs more because lower, inadequate standards are too often considered acceptable. If, by the enforcement of higher standards, lower quality development is no longer possible then those businesses providing a lower standard of development, or supplying lower quality materials, or responsible for lower quality designs, will either have to up their game or drop out of the market, freeing the way for those who are able to meet the improved standard.

By and by

Some of best designed housing I’ve seen proposed in Liverpool lately is for the renewal of Grove Street , and this should be a model for the future, with flats and town-houses. Liverpool loves telling us about it’s character and distinctive feel, but much of the family housing put up in the inner city over recent decades is appalling eg the Park Lane Estate has ruined Chinatown, and stuff built by the Eldonians for example is characterless..
Liverpool should be careful too with its arterial roads which have traditionally been lined with shops with residential above but with many shops falling empty these buildings need to be reconfigured as housing, as if these are lost that will be detrimental to the city’s character.

By Anonymous

To be honest, I’m not sure how this will help things in a country which is known to have one of the most conservative housing stock on the planet. New houses here are designed to look like old houses without the flourishes, which basically means the playschool theme. They are the smallest homes in the developed world, they have worse insulation than the rest of the developed world, they have tiny little windows for the most part.
I very much doubt these guidelines will achieve any benefit outside of banning innovative designs or at the most, adding a flourish or two. They will almost certainly reinforce conservative designs, to keep everyone happy here who hates homes looking modern or different to anything from the past.


One of the things Liverpool needs is controversial buildings and any design guide has to push variety, which will mean some people loath some buildings. Like focus-grouped car design and system which aims to quiet the loudest objections will tend toward banality. Liverpool’s best buildings were controversial and edgy at the time they were built. The inheritors of those who slagged them off now praise them but will abuse any building as controversial today. We can rely on the Echo to champion the pitchfork-wielding mob that will oppose any building with any real flare or imagination.


Excellent news. This is the elephant in the room. Housing associations particularly need to up their game, terrible design aspirations have seen Liverpool lose its ground since its pre-war reputation in housing innovation. Agree that Grove Street will be an important test of quality.

By LEighteen

should be innovative and sustainable above building regs for insulation ect, natural lighting, and net gain for bio diversity

By Anonymous

Liverpool residents deserve a council that raises the standards of its own service before it starts dictating to others.

By Anonymous

Why does the council seem so adamant about preserving the street scene of poor quality housing (referring to designs being out of character for the street rather than scale & mass). Surely promoting high quality diverse street scenes which activate local interest should be encouraged.

By Anonymous

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