The city could formally adopt a new overarching planning strategy from September, should the council wave through recommended tweaks this week.
Public hearings into the draft Liverpool Local Plan, as part of the examinations process, closed in October last year – the document having undergone examination by two inspectors following its submission in May 2018.
While Government planning inspector David Spencer will not make his final report until later this year, a series of proposed key modifications provides a “positive indication that the plan will be found ‘sound’”, according to a report that goes before Liverpool City Council’s cabinet this Friday.
With wider attention on the city largely focused on events ignited by Merseyside Police corruption probe Operation Aloft and subsequent changes at the council in recent months, offices have progressed with modifying Liverpool’s local plan to the extent that the cabinet will now be asked to endorse the changes, triggering a new round of public consultation.
The report prepared for cabinet states that the proposed main modifications “do not fundamentally alter the strategy” and are predominantly concerned with making the plan effective – although the point on protecting the World Heritage Site may become moot. The main points remain:
- Focus development on brownfield land
- Protect open spaces (including parks and amenity spaces), Green Wedges, biodiversity and the city’s heritage assets including the World Heritage Site
- Ensure the city can meet its employment needs, and thus protects land for growth, regeneration, and job creation
- Provide a policy framework for future development at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, which will require an assessment against strict environmental criteria
- Identify a hierarchy of district and local centres in which investment for shops and services should be focused
- Manage the location and concentration of hot food takeaways
- Ensure high quality sustainable design and address climate change matters
- Require new residential development to meet national design space standards and accessibility standards.
The main modifications are mostly concerned with setting an appropriate planning context for important development areas. Some of the areas this relates to are Paddington Village and the wider Knowledge Quarter, specifically to reflect the University of Liverpool’s masterplan proposals and recognise Liverpool Hope University’s contribution.
Also recognised as specific geographic areas where policy modifications are suggested are Pumpfields, St George’s Quarter and the ports of Liverpool and Garston – both of which could see their roles change with the coming of freeport status.
Guidance on areas such as green infrastructure, student housing and protecting environmentally sensitive areas will also see changes, as well as in tall buildings, on which a report by Urban Initiatives Studio, in association with CBA and Arup, is included in the report’s appendices.
Should the cabinet approve the changes, a consultation would run for six weeks from early July.
The inspector would then be sent copies of all representations made, and if he does not wish to reopen examinations, he has indicated to Liverpool that he is keen to publish his report as soon as possible.
A further report would then go to the council’s cabinet, hopefully in time to be rubber-stamped at the scheduled September meeting of full council.