Peel Holdings's £5.5bn Liverpool Waters mega-scheme planned for the city's redundant North Docks may be 'stopped in its tracks' because of new planning rules being introduced by the city council, the developer has warned.
The Draft Supplementary Planning Document, drawn up to govern preservation of the World Heritage Site, will limit development and seriously threaten Peel's plans, according to Lindsey Ashworth, development director of Peel.
The 250-page Draft SPD, written by consultant Atkins (Heritage) and funded by English Heritage and the North West Development Agency, was approved by the council before Christmas but will not be published for public consultation until 2 March.
Ashworth, who has seen and submitted comments on the document, told last week's Regenerate! Liverpool conference: "[The SPD] is fully heritage based and fails to consider what is necessary to secure regeneration and there is no urban design vision for the area."
World Heritage status was granted to six areas of Liverpool in 2004 by UN department UNESCO. The six areas recognised for their maritime mercantile heritage are Pier Head, Albert Dock, Stanley Dock, William Brown Street, Castle Street/Dale Street, and Lower Duke Street.
Ashworth continued: "The SPD fails to consider or factor in the economics of regeneration. It doesn't consider the prospects of large-scale physical regeneration as a development opportunity in parts of the World Heritage Site."
Peel plans vast mixed-use developments on the dockland estate it acquired along with the Mersey Docks & Harbour Company. The powerful developer has been frustrated at the time taken to win over planners and politicians in Liverpool council, compared to Wirral council, and the reluctance in Liverpool to allow tall buildings on the waterfront.
Ashworth added: "There is a very high risk that Liverpool Waters will now be stopped in its tracks. The council needs to make severe changes to [the Draft SPD]."
The guidance document has a "preconception that the existing skyline should be substantially unchanged", Ashworth said.
A spokesman for the council said the council was not anti-development within the World Heritage Site and the Arena & Convention Centre, Museum of Liverpool, Mann Island Development, Mersey Ferry Terminal, Liverpool One, the Canal Link, City Lofts 2 and the Bluecoat extension, proved this.
The spokesman added: "There has to be a balance between preserving the historic docklands and new development opportunities."
He added that there was indeed a presumption against tall buildings in the WHS apart from two areas in the so-called buffer zone around the designated site; in Old Hall Street/Tithebarn Street and the southern gateway around Parliament Street.
The public consultation will last six weeks until 14 April.