Movement on Liverpool’s long-stalled New Chinatown
Ascot Capital has emerged as the frontrunner to take the controversial 500-home scheme forward, while the city council is also understood to be jockeying for position.
However, Begbies Traynor, appointed last year to handle the administration of The Great George Street Project – the company previously progressing the Liverpool scheme – is yet to make a final decision on who will ultimately end up controlling the 8.4-acre site.
The project has been in the pipeline for almost a decade. The most recent iteration of the scheme was approved in 2020 and proposed the creation of 446 apartments across seven buildings of between two and 18 storeys, as well as a 140-bedroom hotel and more than 100,000 sq ft of offices.
Ascot Capital makes a move
Ascot, headed up by Liverpool developer Terry Riley, is understood to have acquired a stake in the site.
The company has now applied to Liverpool City Council to amend several conditions attached to the New Chinatown planning permission. This application can be found using reference number 23NM/0759 on the council’s planning portal.
By filing to amend conditions, the 2020 planning consent could be prevented from lapsing later this year.
Ascot was once part of a consortium that bid to buy a majority stake in Leeds United FC in 2014 and has been involved in high-profile Liverpool schemes including Herculaneum Quay. Ascot was contacted for comment.
The city council’s involvement
While Ascot would appear to be in pole position to take control of the site, Liverpool City Council seems to have been making its own moves in a bid to stay in the race.
According to Begbies’ latest report, the city council described the decision-making process around New Chinatown as one of “significant magnitude” due to the site’s “high-profile nature, checkered past, and political interest”.
A bid of £10m for the site from an unnamed party was put to Liverpool City Council for sign-off towards the end of last year.
In late January, the city council’s interim chief executive Theresa Grant requested an “urgent call…to discuss the site and the options available as part of wider plans to regenerate the surrounding area”, according to the administrators’ report.
Following this call, the city council “advised that it needed some time to consider existing offers, the suitability of interested parties and its own options”, the report states.
Having assessed its position, Liverpool City Council’s cabinet discussed a report titled Project Riverside on 24 February.
It is understood that the private report was related to the New Chinatown site, which is located in Riverside Ward.
The report sought “approval for the purchase of identified land interests for purposes of the delivery of Project Riverside”.
Liverpool City Council was contacted for comment.
New Chinatown was the subject of £200m redevelopment proposals from notorious developer North Point Global in 2015. These plans never materialised.
North Point’s plan for the site, located east of the Baltic Triangle, featured 800 homes, a 140-bedroom hotel, and 120,000 sq ft of offices.
The developer was delivering the project through its China Town Development Company SPV, later renamed The Great George Street Project.
North Point’s involvement in the project ended in 2018 when Great George Street Developments took control of the site by acquiring a shareholding in The Great George Street Project.
Great George Street Developments plans for the site, which reduced the number of homes to 500, can be found by using application reference number 18F/2727 on Liverpool City Council’s planning portal.
Now, following years of false dawns, an end to the saga surrounding one of Liverpool’s most controversial schemes could be in sight.
However, given the project’s history, it could just be the beginning of another chapter.