Liverpool Waters MIPIM 2017
CGI of Liverpool Waters with several proposed tall buildings

Liverpool calls for ‘tall buildings for the right sites’

Charlie Schouten

Liverpool City Council is looking to appoint a consultant to draw up a full tall buildings policy, which it said would need to “promote well-designed tall buildings for the right sites” while “respecting the significance” of the city’s World Heritage status.

The city council’s Local Plan is currently being prepared, having been submitted for independent examination in May this year following consultation in March.

The council is now looking to appoint a consultant to prepare a full tall buildings policy document in response to Historic England, which argued the Local Plan should not be approved without a review and additional evidence to support a full tall buildings policy.

In its response to the draft Local Plan, Historic England said the existing policy on tall buildings “appears to support the development of tall buildings everywhere in the city, subject to meeting certain requirements which could be applied anywhere in the country, and does not provide a locally specific policy for Liverpool”.

“For a city with such a distinctive waterfront, it is critical that any tall building developments are appropriately sited and that they are designed to relate sensitively to the World Heritage Site and other designated heritage assets across the city,” the response continued.

“At present, the tall building policy as drafted does not provide a sufficiently robust or clear framework to identify locations across the city where future tall buildings might be appropriate or inappropriate, or what scale of buildings might be appropriate.”

In response, Liverpool City Council has agreed to procure a consultant team in an £80,000 contract to provide a fully updated tall buildings policy, with procurement to start next month.

The council said there was “no alternative” but to update the Local Plan to reflect Historic England’s concerns, as otherwise the Local Plan would “almost certainly” be ruled as unsound by the planning inspector.

Four key considerations will form part of the updated policy, which will look to:

  • Promote well designed tall buildings for the right sites
  • Ensure that new development is managed so that the setting of historic buildings and areas is taken into account
  • Ensure that new development respects the significance of the World Heritage Site and is appropriate to its townscape context
  • Protects and promotes key visual relationships, panoramas and vistas

Historic England have suggested the updated tall buildings policy should set out where such buildings should be permitted, along with specific design considerations for each of these sites and suggested height considerations from the council.

The tallest building currently under construction in the city is Elliot Group’s 39-storey Infinity scheme on Leeds Street, which also includes a further two towers of 33 and 27 storeys.

The current World Heritage status, which was retained in June this year, stipulates that no new construction in the World Heritage Site reaches higher than the existing buildings, while any new construction at Pier Head should “not dominate, but complement” existing buildings.

Although the city retained its World Heritage status, it remains on a list of “sites in danger”, a position it has held since Peel’s Liverpool Waters scheme was approved in 2012.

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This is Historic England which wrote a letter supporting the conversion of Orleans House to residential, when all it needed was its existing office tenants retaining, and the outside given a lick of paint (judging by all that happened to the exterior during its conversion).

Now, long after completion it sits STILL mostly empty. Its appearance sullied by a hodge podge of window dressings, and massive signage stuck to the walls of this Grade II* listed building, and drill fixed to its metal railings.

If Heritage England spent less time objecting about height, and spent more time looking at the damage done to the city’s economic sustainability and liveability, including the huge number of significant buildings which are getting unsightly sheds plonked on top, perhaps the city’s heritage might look more secure.

Heritage England should earn their money, instead of providing reasons for their abolition.

By Mike

That would be excellent.New York is a water front city,There is plenty of brown land available in Liverpool..This should be a world class city now in the 21st century..

By O.m

You don’t need to pay all that money to be told what we already know. Build to the North to Princes Dock and South of Kings Dock.

By Craig

I agree with Mike. These groups have too much power and influence.There is an assumption that old buildings should be retained however ugly they are. That shabby building in Manchester being bulldozed in the Northern Quarter is a prime example. There are bits of trees growing out of it but some people are up in arms about it being replaced by a modern tower.Liverpool benefits from high buildings because it can be viewed from the sea.

By Elephant

Makes me laugh when people compare Liverpool to New York. am sure they have never travelled.

New York has about 257 skyscrapers Liverpool has 1 Guys I know you love your city but please get things into prospective!

By Northwich

@Northwich… Aspiration rather than comparison…. there is no harm in that

By EggMan

Northwich, don’t think the comparison is based on number of skyscrapers (obviously not) but rather on the fact its a maritime city whose cityscape is best viewed from the river. The building in Liverpool now and in the future will continue to influence that view as they do in NY.

By Craig

Elliots Infinity scheme isn’t under construction

By Joe Stadler

This is a huge NO NO….leave Liverpool waterfront as it is, its special as it is without huge ugly sky scrapers defacing our beautiful and iconic vista, Liverpool council hang your heads in shame, we do not want an outsiders ‘vision’ or ‘dream’ for our Liverpool !!!!!!

By Karen Haver

liverpool needs two things to be taken seriously.
a truly connected airport with intercontinental routes to the far east India, middle east and north america
2nd. high quality office and research space and very competitive rates
the next sky scrappers should be 40-50 stories of grade A office space and a 5 star hotel

By stuart

Mike – Orleans House is pretty much fully sold/occupied. If you’re comparing how “empty” it looks compared to its previous office use, bear in mind that resi developments are by nature typically unoccupied all day.

By Spock

Elliots Infinity will not happen

By Mikes mate

Elliot is on site to-do these people who comment actually from Lio?


@Mikesmate Portakabins are on site at Infinity and the site is almost cleared, I think the tallest building will happen at the very least.

By Anonymous

I received a newsletter from Experience Invest (the agents) saying that the 20% discount currently being given on the apartments will be removed (for studios only) as of the 18th of October. I think this is good news, as it means that they’ve sold enough apartments to fund building the project, and construction is underway

By The facts

It is good to have a plan rather than the free for all we have now.

The city needs good urban design (or any urban design).

Liverpool One was an OK example, although it’s probably over planned.

It should be more about quality than height – some very mediocre buildings being designed and no quality architects or developers with any ambition being used at all.

By Jimbo

The Liverpool / NYC thing is more historical; when the Irish and 9 million other Europeans came to Livererpool to get to North America many thought theye where already in NYC; and this was well before the LIver Buildings etc were there. NYC only became a larger port after 1914.

By the way Northwich; Liverpool had the ‘first’ ‘skyscraper’ in the world, or at least it WAS the place John Wellborne Root got the idea from.

On the Tall Building Policy I would agree with Mike. There are groups that complain about any development in Liverpool as they want it to remain a Maritime Meusem. Most of those groups are not even in Liverpool. I do think a Tall Building Policy is a good idea. The righ building for the right site. Lets just hope they look good.

Wouldnt disagree with Stuart, the Airport needs development and links with North America

By Billy

Billy, Liverpool didn’t have the first skyscaper that honour belongs to the county of shrophsire its near the town of Shrewsbury. the building is called ditherington flax mill. built in 1797

By Northwich

They should leave Liverpool untouched, it can be a place for tourists, Manchester should
Be the business centre and have the skyscrapers and skyline

By Billy

@Billy we should and will have both. Liverpool’s skyline will be outstanding when these tall buildings get built along the waterfront, add a football stadium and a couple of cruise ships to the mix and it’s going to be something special.

By Anonymous

Kind of agree with Billy – Liverpool’s strength is its history and local culture, which lends itself very well to tourism. I wouldn’t say “let Manchester have the skyline” because (1) its very difficult to have a well-defined skyline as an inland city, (2) bar the town hall, there’s nothing historical that would forms part of whatever Manchester skyline there is and (3) the new stuff built/being built isn’t exactly of an international standard. I think the best way to put is that Manchester is a convenient dumping ground for glass boxes to house desks and clad boxes to house young workers, before they move somewhere nicer.

Liverpool’s best economic investment would be to improve links to Manchester so people can access the job market there without being forced to move, while continuing to invest in the local tourist market (including public realm). Best of both worlds.

By Live the Dream

“Best of both worlds” – only with your Manchester goggles on. Given that the Liverpool City Region is one of the largest in the country it would be economically illiterate to reduce a city to a tourism playground. And forcing Liverpool’s residents to commute to Manchester for any kind of career is of course lovely for Manchester’s continued regeneration.

No thank you. We’ll fight that every step of the way. We’ll fight you for medical, for media, for academic, for advanced manufacturing, for logistics, for green tech. For legal. For start-ups. For everything. As it should be. I look forward to the day when Mancunians have to get on their bike to come to Liverpool for a job.

By Denby

Denby.I do not think that Liverpool is going to turn into Manchester’s Croydon just yet but the parochial nonesense on here is wholly embarrassing. I was very pleased at the Littlewoods film studio announcement and the new cruise terminal for Liverpool.The two cities are next to each other and if they worked together we could see the same prosperity and opportunities in the North West,which they have in the South East,due to the success of London.

By Elephant

Denby – I’m actually a scouser and Manchester is a dump. I just wouldn’t want Liverpool to turn into the soul-destroying mess that is Manchester city centre. The fact is, the place is better positioned geographically and politically to attract the lion’s share of investment – given the two cities are only 30 minutes apart (and could be less), it only makes sense to work together. In a “fight” everyone gets hurt.

By Live the Dream

And without a fight one side gets trampled on. Ambition means striving for the best you can achieve. Not waiting for crumbs to fall off someone else’s table. There is no economic or political inevitability about any of this. That’s just hollow defeatism.

With the right leadership, Liverpool can win it’s fair share of inward investment. We’ve already started to see some momentum in the legal sector. Time to put the ‘north-westernism’ ideology where it deserves to be. In the bin.

By Denby

Denby – you are being shortsighted on this one. We must accept that the two cities have different strengths and weaknesses, some of which are attributed to geography. We must work together to use each others strengths to benefit one another.
(NB we don’t need an airport with worldwide links because there’s one 30 miles down the road!)


With the greatest of respect SC, I don’t think I am. Northwestern attributes Liverpool’s strength as tourism and culture, a port and some students. And everything else to Manchester. There’s a clear gravity at work. And then the state takes something like culture and says – no Manchester can have that as well. Let’s turn things around – how many of Manchester’s supposed strength sectors are invulnerable to economic attack?

By Denby

Eccles born Sir John Moores never had a problem creating a success story in Liverpool. The links between both cities need to be strengthened not weakened.

By Elephant

Am one of many mancs in Northwich! but what is so annoying for me is the fact that if we took football out of the equation and city pride we as a district could be immense! going from Stoke in the south to Liverpool in the east to Blackpool and Preston in the north and Leeds, Sheffield and Hull in the west and Manchester in the middle (to be honest that’s only by luck!)

what we could achieve as one big district only if we put our minds to it could be immense. London is lucky it’s got no major cities near it to compete with! not that we could compete with it as individual cities. but as one big district we might have a chance! but it’s about small steps.

for starters you could have like a northern star rover ticket! where you come in to Liverpool by ship train to Leeds and out at Manchester airport or vice versa. obviously taking in the sights and sounds of each city. advertised through out the world! come and get your northern star rover ticket! and obviously Liverpool or Manchester only have to be entry points if you don’t want to visit them cities. it could be. Liverpool. Stoke, Blackpool, hull, machester. it’s just a shame we don’t combine as a district more than we should do!

By Northwich

Amen, Denby.

By LEighteen

Northwich; FIRST iron framed, curtain glazed wall, office block in the world…..was in LIVERPOOL and then the priciple was COPIED by John Root for the Monadnock Building in Chicago. Did you not notice ‘skyscraper’……no one accepts it as a skyscraper,

“They should leave Liverpool untouched, it can be a place for tourists, Manchester should
Be the business centre and have the skyscrapers and skyline” This is a different BILLY

SC is correct, both cities have different strengths/

Eccles born Sir John Moores never had a problem creating a success story in Liverpool. The links between both cities need to be strengthened not weakened….. by Elephant ……………neither does….John Whittaker (Bury)

By Billy

Football stadium on the waterfront, what a backwards step, such smalltime thinking

By Ye

“SC is correct, both cities have different strengths”.

Billy, can you list out what you think are the different strengths of both cities? That way we can move beyond the dangerous power of northwestern generalisms and better understand what limits you believe should be placed on the endeavours of the two cities.

By Denby

Leighteen Lets not drag this out more than we should do but The original conversation was about skyscrapers and billy mentioned I quote “Liverpool had the first skyscraper”. whether or not it was curtain walled is irrelevant. In this country the first truly recognised skyscraper was Ditherington Flax mill built in 1797.

By Northwich

Re: Billy not Leighteen to previous comment

By Northwich