Controversial £100m dockside development heads for inquiry following planning refusal

A CGI of the proposed scheme

A controversial £100m waterfront development will go to a planning inquiry after Liverpool City Council planning committee unanimously rejected the developer’s application this morning (January 18).

The Scheme, by Romal Capital, was recommended for refusal by planning officers following an outcry from nearby residents in Liverpool Waters, which is owned by Manchester developer Peel, and several councillors.

Romal proposed to create 330 residential units within three blocks of between four and nine storeys which would offer apartments and ground floor commercial units. Plans were originally unveiled last year.

Objections ranged from the infilling of part of the historic West Waterloo Dock, fears of over-development, and the effect on local wildlife.

Several agencies also raised concerns, including Historic England, The Victorian Society, The Georgian Group and Save Britain’s Heritage.

Eight objectors addressed the committee, including nearby resident Paul Burnell, who said two petitions against the scheme had attracted 4,000 signatures. He told the committee the development has “cast a shadow over the Waterloo Dock community over three years” and reminded councillors that Liverpool City Council has an existing policy which is to refuse the infilling of the dock.

Jacqueline Barrow said: “If this goes ahead it will be unliveable for the community,” while Cllr Nick Small, Labour councillor for Central Ward, said the dock is one of the historic Jesse Hartley docks and should not be infilled. He also emphasised the value of “blue space” which he said “has been an absolute lifeline for residents”.

The developer declined to address the meeting. However, Romal Capital chief executive, Greg Malouf, said last week: “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.”

Peter Jones, planning team leader for the council, said the application was recommended for refusal, adding: “We had to acknowledge the depth of concern about the application. We have, more or less, reached the end of the road.”

He said planning officers have been instructed to contest the developer’s appeal when it is heard.

Cllr Joe Hanson said: “There’s a solitary lesson to be learned from this application. Peel have decided, this is what we are going to do, but they haven’t listened to the residents.”

Committee chair, Cllr Tony Concepcion, told the meeting: “This particular application doesn’t meet the requirements of what we want as a city.”

He moved the vote to refuse the application, which was supported unanimously by all 10 members of the committee.

But because the council failed to consider the proposals within the statutory period, due to reservations it had about the plans, the developer has appealed over the non-determination and the matter will now be considered by the planning inspectorate.

Another scheme which was unanimously refused was an application to create 236 co-living apartments and ground floor commercial space on the site of the former Bogans Carpet building in the Baltic Triangle area.

Crosslane Co-Living SPV1, Wates Group, and Ascot Property, applied to demolish the existing buildings in New Bird Street, and create the new amenity, which they said would create 223 construction jobs and 18 jobs on-site following completion.

Rooms would cost between £900 to £1,100 per month.

However, council officers recommended refusal because the plans are for all single occupancy studios, 192 of which do not comply with the Nationally Described Space Standards, for accommodation.

David Wilson, development manager for Crosslane, argued that, to refuse permission is “counter-intuitive to policy”, adding “the application of space standards is not detrimental”.

Cllr Helen Thompson, deputy chair of the committee, said: “It looks like a big HMO (house of multiple occupation) to me.”

Mr Wilson responded: “People will sleep in their rooms, but live in the building.”

Cllr Thompson replied: “So it’s like a hall of residence?”

Mr Wilson said: “This is not a student development by stealth. We do not want this to be a party atmosphere.”

Feargal McEvoy, from the council’s planning team, told the committee that the authority had worked alongside the developer on the proposal, but could not reach an agreement, adding: “We’re trying to encourage a mix of housing accommodation to move away from studio one bedrooms.”

Committee chair, Cllr Concepcion, said: “This raises a lot of concerns,” before the unanimous refusal was recorded.

However, councillors did vote unanimously to approve an application to create a 16-storey residential block, comprising 135 apartments and a ground floor commercial unit, on Waterloo Road, in Kirkdale.

The application was originally heard in February last year, and was approved, but due to delays in signing legal agreements, the scheme needed considering again.

Jonathan Pritchard, of LAG Pritchard Architects, spoke for the applicant, Waterloo Road, Ltd.