Sunday, 18 September 2016

Hell in the PDF:Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan Consultation

Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan Consultation

First impressions

This is possibly one of the most tedious documents I have ever read. Though given the subject matter that is entirely excusable. What isn't is that in this age of PDF files with hypertext ability and portable e-reader when the draft is provided in a PDF form that none of the advantages of the format is used. this is clearly a document designed to be printed and at 301 pages that will not be cheap. Far better in this day and age to take full advantage of the technology available and have the print version slightly compromised, than the other way around.

In the beginning

The first 5 chapters are mainly descriptions of the city and its history which are not really controversial or interesting, at least from my point of view. I will point out that the line "Liverpool lies at the heart of the former county of Merseyside" is wrong. The county still exists it is only the metropolitan council that was abolished.

Chapter 6: Liverpool City Centre

6.7/6.8 Commercial Quarter/Pumpfields

The first thing that occurs to me on look at map 1, is that I've always assumed that the centre goes further north. The map seems to truncate it at Kingsway. I would include the area bounded by Vauxhall road and Sandhills Lane. This is in part just down to my own judgement but also based on its history, with the likes of the Tate and Lyle factory. I view the Eldonian village as being misplaced, a prime example of land that should have been reserved for industry/business or high-density housing, not a semi detached suburb. The area should be treated as an extension of Pumpfields and be of similar mixed-use high density. This would blend in with Liverpool Waters and help provide the commercial space needed by providing some large plots without the restrictions of the World Heritage Area.

6.10 The Waterfront

If the city centre is extended up to Sandhills Lane, then this area should be extended at least to include Stanley dock and incorporate all the docks, not in their original use. Putting a boundary through them will just make planning difficult if there are conflicting requirements in the different divisions.

6.38 Historic Quarter

Sandwich between the Commercial and the Historic quarters is the area between Dale Street and Exchange street. This area needs some special attention due to the street layout, which is amongst the oldest in the city. The area around Hackins Hey has great potential with the current street layout. Development in the area needs to take advantage of this intimate possibly medieval street layout and produce an area with character. To just bulldoze it for a large office block what not use it to its greatest advantage. It will require an imaginative scheme, which keeps the current street layout.

6.41 Residential Neighbourhoods

The document talks about Marybone first, which seems to be a totemic place for the council and refers to it and later L1 as Older established areas with low-density housing. While people have lived in these areas for a longer time,the low-density thing is a fairly recent, thing as can be seen in this picture of Fontenoy Gardens, in Marybone, Gerard Gardens was over the road.

Fontenoy Gardens
and these in L1.

Kent Gardens
Sussex Gardens
The move to low density has changed the character of the area, I think some plans need to be put in place to turn it back to high density. In addition to these areas mentioned I'd want the area previously occupied by Myrtle Gardens and some of the other "Gardens" recovered, as well as the Eldonian village.
While people complain about tower blocks, there seems to be nothing but nostalgia for this size of buildings. Designed and built properly they can be fit for the modern era and at the same time take pressure off the green belt. Within the City centre area, there needs to be a minimum density specification as well as a minimum height for new residential. Some buildings in Marybone adjacent to Leeds street do seem to conform to something like the requirements, but semi detached do not.
I'm not sure of the ownership of these buildings but an active plan that respects the rights of the people to live in the area and maintains the standard of their housing, but works toward moving to a higher density regime, should be put in place. Semi detached have a place but it is not in the city and not in any area that is urban. I think this is a necessary step but one that would require more bottle than the council has, even to suggest it.

6.115 Transport and accessibility

Mention is made of reopening a St James station and the provision of a new station for Liverpool Waters. Later in  14.9 the Edge spur is referred to, though only the Wapping Tunnel option mentioned. The Merseyside Area land use Transportation study (MALTS) project report of the late 60s makes similar costed proposals and offers an alternate plan which seems to be better. I have outlined possible further changes in my blog A New Edge Hill. The proposals made by the Mayor for Paddington Place station would seem to rely on using the Victoria tunnel

This would use the complete length of both Wapping and Victoria tunnel which in addition to the link to Central would provide a link to the waterfront. The two tunnels being linked by tram lines and a full train tram service providing a loop from Edge hill.
In the council's document, there is no mention of Trams or Train/Trams, which seem to reflect a bias in Merseytravel rather than an objective view. In 14.8 the tunnels are described as having a junction with the Northern Line, no such junction exists or has ever existed.

7 Employment Land and the Economy

Several references are made to the knowledge economy, this is a very wide area, I would suggest emphasising some more specific areas. Some mention has been made in other places of what is fundamentally Industry 4.0, this and several other areas could be emphasised. Perhaps 1 could be medical science, building on the current base and the proposed Royal College of physicians. It may advisable to look to a way of exploiting the renewed interest in space-related activities, while launch and recovery are unlikely, mission control is not, which could be extended to include the control of commercial UAVs/Drones globally. The exploitation of UAVs in urban environments might be a tag.

7.33 Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

The extension of the runway and a decent rail connection are important. The extension into the river should be considered. While the protected status is a problem, provided some remedial work is undertaken such as removing part of the dry land to keep the mud flat area the same or perhaps greater, the nature of the reserve would allow quick recovery of the reserve. See needs to be longer at Liverpool.

8 Housing Provision

8.1.2 Land at Chaucer Street, Grosvenor Street, Juvenal Street & Peover Street

I think this area may conflict with area desired by Merseyside Police for their new HQ. This and the area once occupied by Gerard Gardens to the south is a prime site for high-density development. Merseyside Police should not be allowed to squander it on a low rise building and worse still with above ground car parking. See Cops getting away with daylight robbery.

8.1.5-8.1.8 Land Between Great Mersey Street and Lancaster Street

This and several other plots along Scotland road are identified. I believe these need to be at least terraces designs and preferably above 2 stories, simply to give the feeling of entering the city centre. This need for some theatre on the main trunk routes into the centre does not seem to be addressed, another place that this needs to be taken into account is West Derby road, Edge lane, Park Road and the bottom of Kensington.  The areas outside of them have become separated from the city centre psychologically if not physically.

10 Urban Design

The rise of the car, though it has been going on for over a century still seem to be problematic. With it comes the need for car parks, which are in all honesty a waste of space, unless there is a very good reason all parking space associated with new build should be within the footprint of the building, either underground or as an undercroft.

12 Green Infrastructure

This part of the document is incomplete and waiting on Simon O'Brien's report.

One of the first things mentioned is the creation of 2 new woodlands. One I suspect is the park Melrose Meadows in Kirkdale. The other may be Grant Gardens, a park which had 0 visitors on a bright May bank holiday. Personally, I would like to see it naturalise itself, it would be a good educational resource as it went through the process of Ecological succession.


A couple of comments are made about the impact of trees, which are I think inaccurate, firstly there is the mention of oxygen generation, this is quite minor especially for deciduous trees, most of the atmospheric oxygen comes from phytoplankton. The second is carbon uptake, it is true that trees do take up carbon but they do that mostly while they are young, once they reach maturity the carbon uptake drops dramatically. To improve the impact, once a tree reaches maturity, it needs to be felled and objects made of it, while a new tree takes up its space. The trees and the wood they produce need to be seen as a resource and a crop in order to maximise carbon capture.
Trees are far more important than grass, any area that is kept as only grass, is an oversized lawn and either needs to have a use as a sports pitch or be left to return to woodland. If someone can find a way of introducing red squirrels and excluding greys even better.

14 Sustainable Transport and Accessibility


In addition to the routes names the routes to Wigan, Warrington Wrexham, Preston and Manchester need considering. Viewing rail connections as IntraCity, IntraRegional or InterCity makes a gap in the IntraRegional rail apparent. A journey from Kirkdale to Salford Crescent is slow and makes that commuter route untenable. This sort of IntraRegional link needs to be addressed perhaps by decision between Mersey Travel and adjacent Transport Authorities, rather than with London. See  Liverpool does not need HS3 to connect to Manchester, it needs it to connect to Leeds.


A train/tram line along the route of the old overhead railway, perhaps even a raised line, with connections to Edge Hill via the Wapping and Victoria tunnels should be considered.

1 comment:

  1. Kensington is now a community changed forever by failure of politicians to protect our community by enacting policies in the UDP, initiated in 2002. They still exist in the Local Plan, hopefully to protect other communities, in our case the horse has bolted, I genuinely fear for the future of communities as the city continues to develop will community follow suit?