Pall Mall, one of Liverpool’s largest commercial office projects, is primed to move forward with the council looking to give the go-ahead to a nine-month remediation programme at Bixteth Gardens, despite opposition from local politicians and residents.
The £200m project, being delivered by CTP and Kier Property, is set to feature three speculatively-developed offices, a hotel, and around 80,200 sq ft of public space including a new square. Overall, there will be around 400,000 sq ft of office space.
This will necessitate the replacement of the existing Bixteth Gardens, although the developer said there will be double the number of trees and three times more planting once the project is complete. Re-form is the landscape architect.
However, the replacement of Bixteth Gardens has attracted some criticism from local groups as well as eight local councillors – Cllrs Nick Small, Sharon Sullivan, Christine Banks, Steve Munby, Thomas Crone, Sarah Jennings, Anna Key, and Lawrence Brown.
All the councillors have argued against the loss of “green space” at Bixteth Gardens, with some arguing the site is designated as such in Liverpool’s Local Plan and should be left alone. Small argued the area was “a catalyst for attracting people to come and live and work in the area, and the removal of the mature trees will undermine the air quality in the area, as they help to address harmful emissions”.
Cllr Small had also suggested that the planning application for the remediation should be heard at the same time as a planning application for phase one of the development, including the first office building and the public realm. This is expected to follow in the coming months, with work on the office set to begin this year. A public consultation was held last year.
There have also been 62 objections from local residents, who similarly argue against “the loss of green space”.
However, planning officers have signalled their support for the remediation, while the council’s environmental, landscape, and conservation teams have also not put forward any objections.
Recommending the remediation for approval when Liverpool City Council’s planning committee meets next week, planning officers admitted there would be a “temporary loss of public space” while works were being undertaken, but argued the site was “central to the city’s ambition to grow its business sector”.
“The proposed reclamation works are necessary to prepare the land so it’s in the right condition ready for development”, said the planners’ report.
Officers pointed out that the site has been set aside for office development under the city’s Local Plan, and argued the site was originally a “temporary treatment” and was “not intended to be permanent public open space”, with the intention always being to develop the site at some point.
Remediation works are expected to take around nine months; this will be supported by a £3.5m grant from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Single Investment Fund. Works include a £1.5m scheme to relocate a substation on Bixteth Street, and around £1m towards earthworks. Existing operational substations will also be decommissioned,
Willmott Dixon is to be appointed via the Scape framework to manage the remediation, which will clear the site for future development. This programme is expected to take around 17 weeks.
The recommendation to approve comes with a condition that the site will be re-landscaped if the Pall Mall project is delayed for any reason.