Planning Inspectorate allows Romal’s £100m waterfront residential scheme

A CGI of the proposed scheme

Liverpool City Council has been defeated in a planning appeal concerning a £100m waterfront development.

Romal Capital, the Liverpool-based developer, has been successful in its bid to create a new residential scheme, despite opposition from neighbours and several councillors.

It took its case to the Planning Inspectorate after council officers recommended refusal at the planning committee in January this year.

Romal proposed to build three blocks of between four and nine storeys which would offer apartments and ground floor commercial units.

Plans were unveiled last year for the £100m development but they drew swift condemnation from neighbouring tenants.

Papers for January’s planning committee showed that 100 individual letters and emails objecting to the proposal had been received from local residents and their representatives.

Reasons included opposition to the infilling of part of West Waterloo Dock and fears of over-development at the site, part of Manchester property giant Peel’s £5.5bn Liverpool Waters development.

Three councillors, Cllr Nick Small (Labour), Cllr Richard Kemp (Lib Dems), and Cllr Tom Crone (Greens), objected on similar lines, as well as concerns about the impact on local wildlife.

A variety of experts also raised objections. Historic England said it continued to have serious concerns and advised that Liverpool’s historic docks are a “finite resource, no longer expanding and growing as they once did”.

It said any loss of water space means a reduction to the scale of dockland.

The Victorian Society also objected to the Romal Capital scheme, first in principle to the partial infilling of West Waterloo Dock, and the poor design of buildings.

Likewise, The Georgian Group said it objected strongly, due to the impact of the partial infilling of the dock, and the impact of the scale and height of the proposed development on the site, while the Save Britain’s Heritage objection is based on its claim that any infilling of the historic dock basin for the construction of three large buildings will be substantially harmful to the outstanding universal value of the site.

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

The application was unanimously rejected by all 10 councillors.

But Romal’s appeal has been allowed by the Planning Inspectorate which has granted permission for the scheme to proceed.

A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “The city council is disappointed with the Inspector’s decision as the impact on the historic environment of West Waterloo Dock and the reduction in size of the proposed cultural square are losses to the city that can’t be recouped elsewhere.

“The housing mix for this scheme is also not ideal, but the council will work with the developer to ensure the scheme is built to the highest quality.

“The city council also remains committed to working with Peel to regenerate Liverpool’s northern docks to create outstanding developments that befits a world class location.”

Chris Capes, director of development for Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters, said: “We are very pleased that the Planning Inspectorate has now given the green light to Romal Capital for its £100m waterfront development at Liverpool Waters and that it will now go ahead as planned.

“Romal’s development will bring huge benefits to the city, including the provision of 330 highly sustainable smart homes, public realm, retail space and local amenities. In addition to supporting economic growth and job creation, this development will also allow for other projects to come forward in the same area, including space for arts and culture.

“It will be a critical part of the regeneration of the Central Docks neighbourhood, and we look forward to working with Romal to bring this development forward.”