PLINTH… North West sculptors are being asked to submit designs for a piece of art to sit atop a plinth outside Liverpool’s grade two-listed parish church. The winning entry will replace Gail Dooley’s Tidal Shame, which depicts a ceramic gannet entangled by sea plastic and detritus collected on beaches across the UK and Merseyside. The new installation will be unveiled in July and occupy the plinth for 12 months. Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company, said: “The Liverpool Plinth is a vital place for us to champion artists across the North of England, in a year when they need more support than ever before.” The application process is now open and will close on Friday 19 March. As well as having their work on display, the selected artist will also receive a £1,000 prize.
FIFA… Fancy yourself as a bit of a Playstation wizard? Then it is time to test your gaming abilities against your peers. Sam Stafford, host of the 50 Shades of Planning podcast, is running a FIFA 21 tournament where planners, architects and structural engineers will be pitted against each other to find out who is the best virtual footballer in the property industry. Enter now for your chance to win a share of £500 of charitable donations and a £50 Classic Football Shirts voucher. The competition, backed by planning consultancy Barton Willmore, kicks off on 1 February. Stafford said: “In the absence of business development and networking opportunities, the FIFA Cup seemed a good way of bringing people together. Fundamentally, I hope this can just be a bit of fun and help to break up the mind-numbing monotony of it all.”
WATER FEATURE… The aftermath of Storm Christoph taught us you shouldn’t believe everything you see online. At first glance, the relentless downpour seemed to have submerged the site of a Russell Homes development in Littleborough. An image posted online (above) seemed to suggest that anyone thinking about buying a property at Stubley Meadows should think twice, as it appeared to be located slap-bang in the middle of a flood plain. The tweet garnered more than 10,000 retweets and 2,000 replies as Twitter users lambasted Rochdale Council’s planning department for granting consent to the developer of the housing project. But all was not as it seemed, as THING discovered when it contacted Russell Homes about the image. The firm’s response was that the submerged area was supposed to flood, but that no houses were to be built there. This stance was backed up by the council, which said: “No homes are being built within this zone (despite the position of the sign). It was retained as open space with a dual function as flood storage capacity. The raised plateau area in the background is where the homes are actually being constructed, well above the flood level.” So, less a case of bad planning and more a matter of an unfortunately placed sign.
JUBILEE… Darwen’s Jubilee Tower, built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, is to be revamped to keep it open to the public in the long term. The octagonal tower, perched on Darwen Moor, is in need of some TLC to repair damage caused by water ingress. The £280,000 upgrade will include the replacement of rainwater pipes and broken and missing glazing, as well as repairs to handrails, landings and steps. In addition, consent is being sought for the provision of stainless steel engraved plaques on the observation deck and for the installation of a new steel support to the upper landing, as the council looks to future-proof the grade two-listed asset.
PLANE DESIGN… Populous, the architect leading the design of Manchester’s £350m Co-op Live arena, is taking sustainable design to the next level by upcycling Airbus A340 fuselages and incorporating them into the design of French football club Racing Club de Strasbourg’s revamped stadium. The project will see the capacity of La Meinau increase from 26,000 to 32,000 and the discarded plane parts will be used to create a 47,000 sq ft façade on the south stand. A similarly green approach is being taken in Eastlands, where Populous has designed Oak View Group’s arena so that it functions in a way that requires none of its operational waste to end up in landfill. News of the architect’s green credentials are sure to be welcomed as Manchester’s 2038 carbon zero target looms.
DEE-LIGHT… Chester’s grade two-listed Dee House may finally get its much-needed restoration, after the council stumped up £500,000 for the work. The building, which sits on an unexcavated part of Chester’s ancient amphitheatre, has a long and chequered history of redevelopment plans – none of which have been brought forward due to its state of disrepair. Ramboll, one of many consultants enlisted by the council to conduct feasibility studies for Dee House, said in 2019 that the building could not even be accessed due to safety concerns, yet securing access “is necessary to fully understand the true cost of its restoration”. A price tag to restore the building was finally agreed that year, but it has taken Chester Council a while to find the money. Now, it can start planning the crucial access and exploratory work needed to draw up viable plans. The Dee House and Amphitheatre Working Group proposes to redevelop the building into a community space through a public-private partnership. Watch this space…