Liverpool Waters is a £5.5 billion, 30 year scheme to redevelop Liverpool’s historic docklands quarter into a world-class waterfront site, creating up to 20,000 new jobs, 9,000 apartments and facilities for business, leisure and culture.
As the UK’s largest development after the 2012 London Olympics, the project’s location in relation to a UNESCO World Heritage Site was always likely to bring it under scrutiny. The proposal to build the UK’s largest building outside London, the 55-storey ‘Shanghai Tower’, at the heart of the site met particular resistance from planning and heritage authorities.
Working with the developer, Peel Holdings, over a period of five years, WYG has helped refine and adapt the proposal and outline designs to the point where they have been accepted. In 2012, the outline application was granted planning permission, which was upheld in 2013 after the plan was referred to the Secretary of State for Communities, Eric Pickles.
Paul Shuker, Project Director, WYG, describes how the project will help regenerate a very neglected part of the city. He said: “As a result of our promotion of the site, it has been granted Enterprise Zone status by the UK Government, so the scheme will help bring a major economic and social transformation as well as improving the lifestyles of local people.
“It is also part of Peel Holdings’ proposed £50bn investment programme for the NorthWest of England, Atlantic Gateway, which aims to provide physical access to global markets for the region’s businesses. As such, it’s one of the keys to the city’s future.”
A major town planning programme
Our work on the project included collaboration with a broad range of architects, transport specialists, economists and archaeologists to deliver the successful application. Our own services included town planning and project management, as well as multidisciplinary advice in areas such as heritage, the environment, landscape, energy and flood protection.
Our environmental services included co-ordinating a major Environmental Impact Assessment, supported by an extensive suite of environmental skills, such as ecology, air quality, noise and water quality. Detailed negotiation was undertaken with English Heritage, as a result of which we have been able to preserve features of dock engineering that had rarely been displayed before and could have been lost forever.
A 50-year development
The project is expected to last between 25 and 50 years, so coordinated phasing was a vital enabler of the planning consent. In response to this, we divided the development into eight areas, each of which has been phased for smooth delivery of the different groups of facilities and to avoid isolated developments.
Paul Shuker added: “We not only brought the skills that navigated Peel through a changing planning regime, but we also had the right combination of passion and patience needed to achieve outline planning consent for the development’s first 37 years.
“Local support is always vital to projects like this and we carried out a major stakeholder engagement programme, ranging from workshops and events, which presented the scheme to local groups to consultation with statutory bodies. We aim at best practice in this area and we felt we achieved it in this case.”
The people of Liverpool are delighted with the potential boom that Liverpool Waters will bring the city, whose Mayor Joe Anderson welcomed the planning approval, saying: “Today’s announcement marks the start of a new era for Liverpool, paving the way to us delivering a world-class development which will transform a part of the city that has been in desperate need of investment for decades.”
“WYG’s breadth of in-house skill, combined with their practical approach to resolving development challenges, has been instrumental in steering Peel’s Liverpool Waters proposal through the ever-changing and ever-challenging UK planning system. They have assisted us in overcoming many of the challenges faced in bringing forward the UK’s largest waterside regeneration project.”
Ian Pollitt, Liverpool Waters Project Manager for Peel Holdings