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English Heritage denies exerting undue pressure on city planners

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May 17 2005

The body charged with conserving Liverpool’s heritage of industrial buildings has denied it is influencing the planning process in the city, specifically with regard to tall buildings. John Stonard, Manager of the Historic Environment for Liverpool Project says “Liverpool has a Tall Buildings strategy. I don’t think anything is being knocked back because of anything English Heritage says.” English Heritage are a senior partner in the HELP project which also includes Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Vision, the city centre regeneration company established by the Council.
Countering further accusations that the conservation body has been a restraining investment, Stonard pointed to the role of regeneration in turning around the decline. “The thing is that the conversion of Liverpool’s industrial buildings, schemes like Albert Dock, are what made the city a good place to invest in the first place. Companies like Urban Splash took on buildings that the commercial mainstream volume house builders wouldn’t touch. Whilst they are happy to build standard models, others created places that people actually wanted to live in,” he says.
Members of Downtown Liverpool, “an independent ideas agency committed to the development of a vibrant, dynamic, modern metropolitan Liverpool”, have suggested that the HELP were promoting within the planning department a culture which was averse to modern architecture. Stonard denied this. He stressed that the World Heritage Site status, granted in July 2004, provided for no statutory regulations against certain types of building. Since HELP was established in 2000, it has funded Stonard’s position, within the planning department of Liverpool City Council. In addition it has created and funded a World Heritage site officer to oversee developments and part-funded a Building At Risk officer. Twelve per cent of Liverpool’s listed buildings are classed as being “at risk” compared with a 5% national average. HELP has also funded a position within the Liverpool Cultural Company, which will orchestrate the City of Culture 2008.

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