Campaigners criticise student accomodation approval in Liverpool World Heritage buffer zone

Campaigners have criticised a decision by Liverpool City Council to approve plans for a 22-storey student accommodation-led mixed use scheme within the buffer zone for the city's World Heritage Site (WHS).

An artist's visualisation of the finished scheme (right)
An artist's visualisation of the finished scheme (right)

Earlier this week, the council approved a full application for the development, which would see the construction of building rising up to 22 storeys high on a car park at Skelhorne Street next to Lime Street station.

The development would include shops, offices and accommodation for over 1,000 students.

A planning report said that it was noted that UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee had "specifically referred to this scheme and requested that it does not gain approval until a Desired State of Conservation Report has been submitted by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport".

But it added that the council’s interim head of planning "does not consider it appropriate to delay decisions on applications for major development in the WHS once they have been fully assessed and are ready to be determined as this would unreasonably stifle the essential regeneration of the city centre."

The document said that the "potential effects of the development have been correctly assessed and that the proposals are considered to present a high-quality and modern design solution that will lead to the development of an identified negative gap site and would not harm the setting of any of the identified high grade buildings nor cause harm to the outstanding universal value of the WHS".

Henrietta Billings, director of heritage charity SAVE, said: "This planning permission for a 22 storey tower deliberately flies in the face of serious international heritage concerns. Liverpool's World Heritage Status is a badge of honour which is slipping through its fingers because of short-sighted planning decisions."

Earlier this year, SAVE lost a Court of Appeal challenge against the council’s approval for the redevelopment of a cinema on the city’s Lime Street, which was also in the buffer zone. And last year, the mayor of Liverpool said that the city council would not comply with a request from UNESCO to implement a two-year moratorium on development within the city's World Heritage Site.

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