Romal CApital At Liverpool Waters Dockside Feb 2021
Ollier Smurthwaite designed the scheme. Credit: via planning documents

Romal’s £100m Liverpool Waters project heads to inquiry

Dan Whelan

Concerns about the heritage impact of the 330-home scheme and question marks over how it fits into Peel L&P’s £5bn masterplan have held the project back. 

Romal Capital, headed up by Australian co-founder Greg Malouf, wants to build a 330-home development in the Central Docks area of Liverpool Waters. However, Liverpool City Council has not determined the proposals within the statutory period due to reservations it has about the scheme. 

After plans were lodged last February, the city council asked Romal to address various issues it had with the project but the developer has failed to do so, according to a report to the council’s planning committee. 

After failing to agree a way forward, Romal has appealed against the non-determination of the proposals, meaning the planning inspectorate will have the final say on if they are approved following an inquiry. 

To guide the appeal process, Liverpool City Council’s planning committee will meet next week to determine if it agrees with officers’ recommendation that the proposals should be refused. 

The city council’s reasons for refusal are as follows: 

  • Harm caused by infilling of West Waterloo Dock 
  • The scheme would impinge on land earmarked in the Liverpool Waters masterplan for a public square 
  • The proposed development contains too many one-bedroom apartments. 

Both Peel and Romal “believe the proposed development is vital to maintaining momentum and investor confidence in the Liverpool Waters scheme”, according to the council. 

“We are obviously incredibly disappointed at the decision to recommend refusal on this application,” Malouf told Place North West.

“We are particularly disturbed given the three years of intense engagement with Liverpool City Council regarding this development, the significant adjustments we have made to our proposals, and the subsequent assurances we have been given during this long and very costly process.”

Romal first lodged plans for the redevelopment of plot C02 of the Liverpool Waters masterplan in 2019.  The company proposed creating 643 apartments but then scaled back its plans. 

Elsewhere within the masterplan, Romal has already developed Quay Central and Park Central, totalling 237 apartments. 

“The regeneration of Liverpool’s waterfront is critical to the growth of this city,” Malouf continued. “This proposal is a critical component of that growth. We believe Liverpool City Council should be supporting the regeneration of its northern waterfront, working with reputable developers like Romal to move projects forward and prioritise brownfield sites.”

Liverpool City Council declined to comment.

  • Read Greg Malouf’s full statement below

We are obviously incredibly disappointed at the decision to recommend refusal on this application.

We are particularly disturbed given the three years of intense engagement with Liverpool City Council regarding this development, the significant adjustments we have made to our proposals, and the subsequent assurances we have been given during this long and very costly process. 

We are proposing £100 million of private investment to transform a patch of barren brownfield land and derelict dock into a thriving new, diverse, and sustainable neighbourhood.  We want to deliver new homes at a time of acute pressures in the housing sector. 

We must also not forget the communities that surround the site in question – some of the less well-off and most deprived wards in the United Kingdom. In the development phase this project would create over 200 jobs, and we always work with our contractors to maximise local employment.  In the long term the amenities, retail, leisure, and other services that form part of our proposal, will provide long term sustainable employment for many local people.

The regeneration of Liverpool’s waterfront is critical to the growth of this city.  This proposal we feel is a critical component of that growth; active waterfront for many to enjoy, prime pedestrian connectivity between Docks that is yet to be sufficiently catered for, immense improvement of the waterway and much needed high-quality housing for families and young professionals.  We believe Liverpool City Council should be supporting the regeneration of its northern waterfront, working with reputable developers like Romal to move projects forward and prioritise brownfield sites. 

Liverpool Waters – the complete regeneration of the city’s northern docklands – has the power to uplift this city even further, bringing investment, jobs, new businesses, and suitable housing, all centred on the historical river, docks and canal system.  What could be Liverpool’s greatest opportunity sadly remains inaccessible, uninhabitable, and screaming out for investment.

When Everton’s new stadium opens to the public in three to four years’ time, what do we want visitors to see? A flourishing, mixed, sustainable world-class waterfront, with new homes, new parks, green spaces, and public realm for everyone to enjoy – or undeveloped barren brownfield land?  

In December 2021, we appealed based on grounds of non-determination due to Liverpool City Council Planning Officer’s inability reach a decision. The application will go to committee this month where a refusal there will mean the technical merits of the proposals will be decided by the Planning Inspectorate.

We believe in this city, and despite this set back, will continue to invest and support Liverpool’s growth.  We firmly believe Liverpool rightly deserves to sit alongside the UK’s other great cities, and that this is only possible with the right investment and belief in it.

Your Comments

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An already amended scheme is now further delayed due to the hypocritical stance of many of those who are owners in the Waterloo dock warehouse and those in the more modern low rise blocks behind, who appear to object to every proposal in their vicinity, I bet they would have objected to the new IOM ferry terminal but maybe though that was a bit too much of a struggle.
They live on a quayside but want no one else to be present to experience the environment, these people are already using up acres of valuable land so they can park their vehicles.
Hopefully an inquiry will help to clarify the issues and expose the timidity of the City Councillors who back off when any group threatens them with losing their votes at any future election but only end up making a rod for their own back, as well as the City council.

By Anonymous

Liverpool planning Committee would rather allow Liverpool Waters to continue as waste ground and listen to a few people who have bought apartments facing brown land , the city is living in the past , they think they are running a old pensioners home .

By Anonymous

Let’s hope this can be resolved amicably and faith in developing LW’s is maintained. They are one of the few serious developers active in the city.

By Liverpolitis

Liverpool waters should have been a giant £5bn firecracker, setting the tone and scale of development across the city for decades. Instead we have the most drawn out damp squib of pared back disappointment you could possibly envision. Yes some stuff will be built eventually but it should have all been so much better. How utterly depressing.

By Anonymous

That sound? Developers quietly packing up and going where their enterprise, vision and risk are more welcome.

Liverpool is going backwards at a remarkable rate of knots under the current regime: timid, lacking in vision and ambition and setting a mood music that is anti-development.

By Scourge of Rome

“Allegedly” heads to inquiry. Were used to hearing all kinds from developers these days about their projects, that supposedly means they either must go ahead or will cost the council if it says no.

That area is actually earmarked for commercial, but the app also says this is unviable. Apparently, anything other that what they want to do is “unviable”. Funny that anyone should want to go ahead with something so precarious!

And which are we supposed to believe? Protestations this will be a high quality development befitting of the waterfront? Or protestations that margins are so squeezed that we’d be lucky to have anything?? The two are mutually exclusive.

As for those who just want buildings going up in our city at any cost, and claim everyone is a hypocrite or a nimby if they disagree. Well, hasn’t that been the past ten years?

If we want a city of low rise, bland red slabs that wouldn’t look out of place in Salford, we’ll be in touch! (Probably involving a trip to London!)

By Jeff

Anytownsville by the Mersey.

By Bixteth boy

Development at any cost no, but some attractive skyscrapers looking out over the estuary ….I’ll settle for two just two! London and Manchester seem to build them by the dozen and even Birmingham and Leeds seem to be able to get them planned and built, but here no. Liverpool is not the city it once was not by a long way. The real disappointment is how far behind we have fallen.

By Anonymous

Unesco has gone but the heritage zealots remain embedded within the psyche of this council, you either live with the past, live in the past , or get buried in it, and when it`s the latter you`re dead.

By Anonymous

£100m investment, surely that is misleading! 300+homes at £100m! someone is playing with the facts. Stick to the master plan which consent was given for

By KatieT

This is a fantastic development. But again the morbid, negative views of the Liverpool City Council and the residents of the Waterloo Dock warehouse are having a field day tarnishing the development because it’ll block their windows views. It’s absolutely disgraceful. We should all sign a petition to get this built.

By David

So the residents of a “gated” community object to more much needed homes being built for a “non gated” community which would help the greater population to enjoy the waterfront. This is rich from the “gated” community who also have apparently a large piece of potential development land for parking their luxury cars. All this in the face of the recent LCC plan to create 35,000 more homes in the City for the growing population and a “gated” privileged community being supported by a supposedly Labour councillor?
Will any of the 35,000 homes ever be built, over to you Mayor Joanne Anderson?

By Exasperated

I live here…for about the next 2 weeks..the noise of building work on the new IOM ferry terminal is unbearable. It was going on 24 hours over the Xmas break. Then this is proposed…we already have new apartments nearby ..lots of 1 bedroom..they are not affordable.. £900 a month for 1 bedroom. Full of people who turn up for 6 months. Create a nuisance. Can’t afford it . Move on. Foreign investors are buying these without viewing on the promise of fantastic ” rental yield” . Its not about regeneration there is 2 miles of land beyond they can use..that would not disturb anyone. Its an open gate down here..walk thru have a look and listen to the noise going on and how crowded it already is…before deciding we are all just moaners or privileged.

By Anonymous

The arguments are driven by the Waterloo Warehouse who prefer dereliction over disruption to their views of the estuary. All the planning arguments in the world don’t change that, or that this influential group are just delaying momentum. Hey ho Liverpool City Council falling behind Manchester again.

By TJL

Heritage matters to the visual narrative and story of a city / sense of place etc. It is very significant over a couple of decades or more as development trends evolve. The alternative is generic development and in recent years too much regeneration related high rises have not stood the test of even a brief period of time. The Inquiry is a good thing to identify the concerns fully objectively. Developers are not saints, really not saints. But development needs to be right. If there are significant issues they need to be heard at Inquiry. At the end of the day this is an overseas investor that will sell a great proportion of the units to overseas buyers thousands of miles away. That is the real scourge, the least that can then be expected is the development complies with local planning requirements.

By Anonymous

Bore off Liverpool City Council

By Anonymous

I wish we could get a forward thinking council in charge at Liverpool but sadly this is what we are stuck with for the forseeable future…Not one ounce of inspiration between them.

By George

Does it matter if the developer is from overseas, or do we just want local developers, of course developers want to make a profit that`s the way the system works.
We have been let down by too many local developers, and our big UK developers won`t come near us due to delays in planning , corruption , and other reasons.
Hamburg`s waterfront has as much history as our`s , and even though we flattened most of it in WW2, they have modernised it while keeping whatever heritage they could, and they have the vision to put much higher buildings right on the Elbe river front right next to the historic fish market, but nobody gets upset about it.

By Anonymous

Heritage does indeed matter. The National Slavery Museum is an indication that Liverpool is at last facing up to its past. It seems now that the real problem is facing up to the future. A city preserved in Aspic is a city destined to fail. Little has happened across the city in the past 20 yrs that shows a long term plan to attract high paying high tech jobs, and the people who want to to live here long term as well as all of the infrastructure that goes with that. There is little sign of that changing.

By Anonymous

If the report is anything to go by the Inspector will over-turn this. Most of the objections have little policy relevance from the digruntled few who may lose a bit of their view. More alarming is the approach of the council noting it was they who originally approved the masterplan and have been flexible in their interpretation of it in the past and now decided to go the other way which really does affect their own credibility. Whilst LCC have challenges dealing with some of the more recent issues, they really do need to continue to be proactive whilst the fall out is on-going and present a unified front that they are open for business, presently, too oftern, they are not doing that.

By BDAY

Those trying to paint this as selfish Waterloo Warehouse residents are the same who vilified Commercial District residents who questioned the reality of the Pall Mall scheme.

Remind me, years later, with the site nothing more than mud and hoardings, just how many people are on site at Pall Mall right now?…

I think the phrase is “gaslighting”.

By Jeff

Now revised a Good development actually fits in well adjacent buildings ….NIMBYs stopping it as it will spoil their view . Note there were originally warehouses on that land ..yes Dock will be narrowed but still significant water . Councillors caved to pressure from a well organised group . Putting their votes above the needs of the city

By George

The number of failed construction projects in recent years is staggering, it’s about time the council started to scrutinise these deals, and the developers need to stick to the plan, or make way for someone who will.

By Anonymous

Lego apartments in an historic dock. Glad it’s been knocked back again.

By Juan O’Dem

Lego is historic too, and has been on the go since 1949, over 70 years, but describing this project as Lego is just a lazy cliche, and not a worthwhile critique of the design of this building, it is modern and for me this is what the vast majority of modern buildings look like.
Cities all over the world have this kind of stuff, eg great places like Amsterdam build a lot of it in their modernised waterside developments, it`s best to get with the times rather than being too hung up with the past.

By Anonymous

I’m not seeing any Balconies. But then I’m not seeing any apartments either.

By BalconyBotch

Balconies? And is that design iconic enough to front the river.

By Geoff

” an iconic enough design”, even if it was the Taj Mahal you`d object, let me think now.
Blocking the river view, upsetting the cormorants, seagulls and rabbits, not in keeping with the maritime heritage, ad nauseam.

By Anonymous