Liverpool to adopt tall buildings policy
A framework outlining where developers can deliver towers, and how tall they can be, is due to be rubber-stamped next week as the city council moves to “sensitively handle” the curation of the skyline.
First revealed in the summer of 2022, Liverpool City Council’s Tall Buildings Supplementary Planning Document breaks down the city into clusters and sets out height parameters for each.
The five clusters identified in the SPD are:
- Liverpool Waters
- Commercial District
- Leeds Street / Pall Mall
- Paddington Village
- City Centre South Cluster
Of these areas, the city centre cluster is earmarked for the tallest buildings with a guideline of up to 50 storeys set around Gilbraltar Row, owned by Peel L&P.
A sixth cluster that was originally proposed around Central Station, which proposed buildings of up to 25 storeys, has been removed from the SPD following the consultation period.
The aim of the SPD is to ensure that tall buildings come forward in areas deemed appropriate by the city council and make a “positive contribution to Liverpool’s skyline, distinctiveness and image, the city’s growth, and the delivery of high quality and sustainable places”, according to the authority.
In addition, by keeping tighter control of the heights of buildings, the council hopes to protect the city’s heritage, certain views and Liverpool’s “unique and world-renowned image”.
“Liverpool’s skyline is world famous and its development needs to be sensitively handled,” said Cllr Nick Small, cabinet member for economy and development.
“We need to ensure its historic character and charm are maintained, whilst allowing for economic growth and job creation.”
The policy also states that developers will have to prove their schemes pass four tests by demonstrating:
- A clear purpose and role for the tall building to directly support regeneration
- The proposed height is appropriate to the role or function of the locality
- It positively contributes to an area and its scale is appropriate to its surroundings
- The impacts on sensitivities have been fully considered.
“We want to ensure our next generation of tall buildings will have a long-term purpose and can instil pride when we look up at them – both for how they look – and what they offer,” Small added.
The tall buildings document will enter into a growing suite of frameworks, including the local plan and an emerging waterfront strategy, that will inform planning decisions.
As well as preserving the character of the city, the SPD is also aimed at helping Liverpool reach its net zero targets.
“This a very timely document as it will help guide and shape our new waterfront strategy and set a clear path as to how developments can provide growth for the future, without impacting on climate change and net-zero ambitions,” Small said.
“Maintaining that balance between environment and regeneration runs throughout the heart of this policy and it has set out clear principles around design, quality and sustainability and what the city expects from developers to meet those standards”
Liverpool City Council moved quickly to draft up its tall buildings policy after UNESCO stripped the city of its World Heritage Site status.
The emergence of a defined stance on developments of height in the city was not welcomed by everyone. Some commentators said the policy would stymie development and act as a barrier to growth.
However, others have embraced the authority’s approach, saying it will preserve the city’s identity and result in better thought-out and higher quality developments.
“This Tall Buildings SPD sets out a framework with a clear objective to guide the development of tall buildings in a positive and proactive manner,” said Samantha Campbell, Liverpool City Council’s director of planning and building control.
“Tall buildings can play an essential part of Liverpool’s growth and regeneration. Indeed, Liverpool has a great tradition of building tall, notably with the Liver Building on the waterfront and skyscraper construction used at Oriel Chambers, Water Street.”