Court of Appeal approves Liverpool Lime Street development

The Court of Appeal has given the green light for a controversial mixed-use development in the buffer zone around a world heritage site in Liverpool.

An artist's impression of the finished scheme
An artist's impression of the finished scheme

Campaign group Save Britain's Heritage (Save) claimed that the consent for the scheme was legally flawed because Liverpool City Council had failed to notify the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and UNESCO's World Heritage Committee of the proposals.

That was said to be a breach of the UNESCO committee's operational guidelines and government planning guidance in respect of heritage sites issued in March 2014.

However, the group's judicial review challenge to the proposals was rejected by the High Court last year and that decision has now been confirmed by the Court of Appeal.

The development on the city's Lime Street would transform an important buffer zone around Liverpool's Maritime, Mercantile City World Heritage Site.

The development site, which is designated for mixed-use in the Liverpool Unitary Development Plan, is close to the southern boundary of the William Brown Conservation Area and to several listed buildings, including the Grade 1 listed St George's Hall and the Grade II listed Lime Street Station.

The project would involve the construction of several buildings, for various uses and of various heights, and the demolition of a non-listed cinema.

It would include over 3,000 square metres of commercial accommodation, a 101-bedroom hotel and an 11-storey building fronting Bolton Street.

Heritage watchdog Historic England did not object to the scheme, but the Victorian Society and Save did, on grounds of the impact on the heritage assets and the city's historic environment.

In accordance with a planning officer's recommendations, however, planning permission was granted by the City Council to developers, Regeneration Liverpool and Neptune in Partnership Limited.

The secretary of state for communities and local government decided not to call in the application.

Save's lawyers argued that the planning consent was fatally flawed by the council's failure to notify the committee and DCMS prior to the decision.

The requirement to do so was a crucial safeguard designed to protect world heritage sites, it was argued.

In dismissing the appeal, however, Lord Justice Lindblom found that no error of law on the council's part had been established. It had not misconstrued or misapplied the committee's guidance, or that of the DCMS.

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Sales, also ruled that, even had an error of law been proved, the Court would have been entitled, as a matter of discretion, to decline to quash the planning permission.

R on the Application of Save Britain's Heritage v Liverpool City Council & Anr. Case Number: C1/2016/0470

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