Major housing development approved for Liverpool community

Plans for Grove Place which were approved by Liverpool City Council

Three key schemes were passed unanimously by Liverpool City Council planning committee this morning (March 22), relating to a significant housing development, a new multimillion-pound Lidl store and a city centre apart-hotel.

Plans to demolish existing homes in Liverpool 7 and replace them with 304 new homes, by Liverpool-based housing association Regenda, were welcomed by the committee.

The proposal, Grove Place, will comprise six buildings, ranging from three to nine storeys and will include social rent and affordable rent properties, apartments to rent to buy, and apartments for private sale.

The council owns the land but leases it to Regenda. Martin Davies, of Regenda, spoke for the scheme, saying it will open up some of the area’s historic streets, including Falkner Street and Vine Street, not to cars, but to cyclists and pedestrians.

Labour Cllr Nick Small represents Central Ward, which covers the east side of the development. He told the committee: “I very much want to speak in support of this today.

“I have been a councillor for 18 years and this will be the first new social housing in central ward in 18 years. This is a really important scheme, strategically. It will transform this part of Liverpool.”

Moving the vote, committee chair, Cllr Tony Concepcion, said: “This is a welcome development. It’s a welcome addition to this particular area.”

Supermarket group Lidl was also successful in its bid to develop a new store in the Everton council ward, which will create 60 jobs.

Rival group Sainsbury’s objected to the scheme. It has a key store and petrol station nearby, which was part of the £150m Project Jennifer regeneration on Great Homer Street by developer St Modwen several years ago.

Lidl wants to open its store on a vacant site on the Northern side of the Project Jennifer scheme. It comprises a new store, a shop/restaurant and drive-thru, as well as a 113-space car park including EV charging points spaces.

The shop/restaurant and drive-thru, which will be operated by Tim Horton’s, will also offer a 24-space car park.

Stuart Jardine, Lidl’s regional head of property, told the committee that, if approved, the multimillion-pound development could be open before this Christmas.

However, Bruno Moore, head of town planning for Sainsbury’s, spoke against the application, saying Lidl’s data was five years out of date, but he also raised concerns about the impact on trading from a new scheme, revealing that his group’s store has failed to meet its original targets.

He said: “Sainsbury’s is the main anchor for the nearby Project Jennifer centre. Great Homer Street significantly under-trades against our expectations,” although he added: “Despite trading levels, we are proud of our store at Great Howard Street.”

However, council planning officer, John Hayes, rejected Sainsbury’s objection to a rival being so close, saying: “We are satisfield with the impact. This is an appropriate site for retailing.”

Labour Cllr Joe Hanson, from the neighbouring Kirkdale ward, expressed some concerns about noise levels from the drive-thru, but said: “I welcome the decision to come in and provide competition and the jobs this will bring.”

And he added: “Sainsbury’s are a business and don’t want any competition to impact on their business.”

Again, the committee passed the application unanimously.

The Castle Street site

A scheme for a 33-room city centre boutique apart-hotel was back before the committee, having originally been approved in December 2019.

Prosperity Castle Street Development is behind plans to change the use of a vacant five-storey Grade II-listed office building on Castle Street to apart-hotel use on the upper floors.

Councillors were reviewing the proposal due to delays to the necessary legal agreements for the original application.

Cllr Nick Small said he broadly welcomed the application, but wanted assurances over the impact of noise from so-called “party flats” on nearby residents.

Planning officer Feargal McEvoy responded, saying the apart-hotel includes in-house 24-7 concierge supervision.

The application was approved unanimously, subject to conditions for an operational management plan.

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