The regeneration of Lime Street is set to go ahead after the Court of Appeal rejected a bid by a campaign group to overturn planning permission, in what Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson described as a “vexatious and spurious” legal challenge.
A joint venture between Neptune, Liverpool City Council, and Sigma Inpartnership is behind the proposals at Lime Street, which were first submitted at the start of 2015. The designs by Broadway Malyan, with IBI Group as planning agent, include 30,000 sq ft of commercial space, a 101-bedroom hotel, and an 11-storey 412-bedroom student residential building.
The decision to demolish the Futurist Cinema to make way for the scheme has been unpopular with the public, with calls to preserve the façade, although the structure has been deemed unsound.
Save’s application to hold an inquiry into the planning approval process for the project was refused by the High Court in January, but in May the group was granted leave to appeal. In a judgement handed down yesterday, Lord Justice Sales and Lord Justice Lindblom dismissed the request for a judicial review.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “It is now almost a year since we granted this scheme planning permission, and due to the legal action this scheme has been in limbo, meaning Lime Street, one of the city’s key gateway routes, has not had the investment that it so desperately needed.
“We must now crack on as soon as possible with enabling the developers to deliver on their vision for the area, bringing it up to a much higher standard than it has been for decades, and one that is fitting for a major entry point into the city centre.
“I am appealing to Save Britain’s Heritage to stop delaying much-needed projects that will create many jobs for the people of our city.
“They need to stop wasting the public’s time and money on vexatious and spurious legal challenges that only serve to put schemes at risk without coming up with viable, fully costed and deliverable alternatives.”
Steve Parry, managing director of Neptune Developments, added: “This series of legal challenges have cost more than £2m and have been a monumental waste of money and time for all those involved.
“More importantly it has been a wasted opportunity to get on with a much needed piece of regeneration creating jobs and opportunities for the people of Liverpool and removing the dereliction that blights this gateway to Liverpool.
“In essence Save have been campaigning to retain buildings that are beyond economic repair without ever seriously considering whether this could be achieved and have tried to link Lime Street to the concerns about our World Heritage status even though this scheme actually has a beneficial impact on the World Heritage Site.
“The new high quality facades of Lime Street will have a depiction of the Futurist and Lime Street in its heyday and we are pressing on with the planning of the ABC to lift both sides of the street and create a fitting entrance to our city.
“It really is time now to move on and get on with remaking one of our most important streets.”