Lib Dems fight against a boring, bland Benidorm in Liverpool

St Georges Hall

In 100 years this building will still be standing as an asset to our City whereas most of what we are building today will have been demolished

Lib Dems are seriously concerned about the type of development taking place in Liverpool and particularly in the City Centre. That is why we have put down a hard hitting motion to the next meeting of the City Council in November. Liverpool’s Liberal Democrats will call for the establishment of an “Architectural Standards Commission” to review the planning applications of all new developments in the City and try to drive up the quality of buildings being developed.

I believe that too much of what is being proposed and built in the city is poor quality design which smashes the proud architectural heritage of our City. If we are to enhance our role as a major European City which is unique and worth visiting we need to ensure that anything we build is of high quality, does not damage our existing high quality architectural heritage and which creates high quality new buildings which complement not detract from the existing buildings.

We want people to come into our City and know that they are somewhere special. Too many of our new builds could be anywhere in the World. They miss the ‘wow factor’ which is typical of the buildings of 150 to 100 years ago. If you look at buildings like the Grand Central student village which is one of the first buildings that visitors coming to the city by train see your vision is one of Stalinist architecture which is already showing itself as dirty as well as ugly. Our World Heritage Site which is an important part of economic and tourist revival is at risk unless the council recognises its importance.

Our city must not be allowed to become a boring, bland Benidorm. It must continue to be a place where that “WOW” factor of a blend of new and old buildings is a vital part of our competitive offer for tourism, investment and the enjoyment of local people.

The full copy of the Lib Dem motion to council is appended.

Creating a strong future by protecting the past

Council welcomes the fact that developers are continuing to show an interest in the City during the difficult times created after the BREXIT vote.

It believes however that the current wave of applications which are coming forward, as exemplified by the buildings being created at or near the Futurist site are buildings which do not build on the rich architectural heritage of the city and indeed in some locations threaten our existing heritage.

The aim of the City Council should be to create a unique cityscape which future generations will wish to cherish as the developers of the City in late 19th and early 20th century did. This concept of high quality uniqueness should cover not only the City centre and commercial and tourist areas but our residential areas as well.

Council believes that in order for the City to progress we must learn from the 60s when a dash for growth produced many buildings such as Concourse House at Lime Street and the spine blocks of Netherley which were loathed from the minute they were built and needed demolishing well before the end of their interned life span.

It has particular concerns about the number of student units which are being created at a time when it is highly likely that the numb of foreign and UK students will decrease not only in Liverpool but in the country as a whole.

It resolves to establish an Architectural Standards Commission charged with:

  • Examining the design standards of buildings being brought before the planning committee.
  • Advising on the development of sites adjacent to heritage buildings.
  • Preserving our World Heritage Status.
  • Creating Liverpool design standards for student accommodation which would enable such accommodation to be converted into none student accommodation if the anticipated reduction in student numbers increases.
  • Working with developers to encourage them to adopt higher standards of construction and more innovative designs to enable Liverpool to lead the way in residential developments of all types.

It asks RIBA, the Merseyside Civic Society and the architectural and planning departments of the Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University to work with the Council on this commission to lead a crusade of building design to ensure Liverpool’s place as a heritage city to visit for decades to come.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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