Thursday, 19 May 2011

Liverpool Waters-English Heritage Report

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Prepared by: Stephen Bond MA HonDArt FSA MRICS GradDipConsAA 8th March 2011
Assessment of the potential impact of the proposed Liverpool Waters master plan on OUV at Liverpool Maritime Mercantile WHS


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1 Impact assessment of the Liverpool Waters Application on the Outstanding Universal Value of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile World Heritage Site: Executive Summary Introduction ES1 An independent assessment of the impact of the Liverpool Waters Master Plan on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile World Heritage Site (WHS) was commissioned by English Heritage in late December 2010. The Liverpool Waters Master Plan was the subject of an outline planning application, submitted on behalf of Peel Land & Property (Ports) Ltd by its agent, the WYG Group, about which English Heritage received formal statutory consultation on 5th November 2010. It is intended that the impact assessment will contribute to the formulation of English Heritage’s statutory advice to Liverpool City Council, as Local Planning Authority, and also to the Department of Culture Media and Sport, as State Party with respect to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, which oversees the World Heritage List. ES2 The Liverpool Waters Master Plan is largely unprecedented in UK planning terms. It covers a site of 60ha immediately to the north of Liverpool’s Pier Head, extending from Princes Dock in the south to Bramley Moore Dock at the northernmost extent of the site. This area is generally known as the ‘Central Docks’. The current outline planning application brings forward proposals for 9,152 residential units, 305,499 sq m of commercial business space (Class B1), 69,735 sq m of hotel and conference space (Class C1) as well as retail, leisure and community facilities. The Master Plan incorporates a series of public spaces, a cruise ship terminal and several neighbourhood centres. The scheme proposes a high density of development and incorporates two clusters of tall buildings, with towers up to approximately 195 metres in height. The Master Plan also incorporates a series of medium rise blocks, many approaching 45 metres high, along the river frontage. The scheme is to be developed over a 30+ year period. The site lies entirely within the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile WHS and its Buffer Zone (BZ). ES3 The Master Plan has huge development and regeneration potential, lying close to disadvantaged communities in north Liverpool, with the ability to transform an enormous vacant and derelict site close to the City Centre and Liverpool’s renowned waterfront which includes Pier Head, Albert Dock, the new Museum, Mann Island and Echo Arena. However, it is also located within an historic environment of international importance that reinforces the distinctiveness of Liverpool, allowing the City to be instantly recognisable, legible and rooted in its highly influential history. ES4 The WHS was inscribed by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in 2004, based on criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv), as defined in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (see Figure 1 for the WHS boundaries).


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2 ES5 A revised Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (SOUV) for the WHS was approved by the World Heritage Committee in 2010. The SOUV observes that Liverpool was ‘one of the world’s major trading centres in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries’ and ‘the supreme example of a commercial port at the time of Britain's greatest global influence’. It then sets out its international significance thus: ‘Liverpool grew into a major commercial port in the 18th century, when it was also crucial for the organisation of the trans‐Atlantic slave trade. In the 19th century, Liverpool became a world mercantile centre for general cargo and mass European emigration to the New World. It had major significance on world trade as one of the principal ports of the British Commonwealth. Its innovative techniques and types of dock, dock facilities and warehouse construction had worldwide influence. Liverpool was instrumental in the development of industrial canals in the British Isles in the 18th century, and of railway transport in the 19th century. All through this period, and particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Liverpool gave attention to the quality and innovation of its architecture and cultural activities’. Relating the WHS’s OUV to the authenticity and integrity within its six Character Areas, the SOUV states that: ‘The key areas that demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value in terms of innovative technologies and dock construction from the 18th to the early 20th century and the quality and innovation of its architecture and cultural activities are contained within the boundaries of the six areas forming the property…’ ‘Within the property, the major dock structures, and commercial and cultural buildings still testify to the Outstanding Universal Value in terms of form and design, materials, and to some extent, use and function…No significant loss of historical authenticity has occurred, as the physical evidence of the City and its great past remain prominent and visible, and in some cases has been enhanced. The main docks survive as water‐filled basins within the property and in the buffer zone. The impact on the setting of the property of further new development on obsolete dockland is a fundamental consideration. It is essential that future development within the World Heritage property and its setting, including the buffer zone, should respect and transmit its Outstanding Universal Value’. ES6 The impact assessment was based as strictly as possible upon the content of Peel Land & Property’s outline planning application, although additional background documentation was provided by the applicant and its advisors, by Liverpool City Council, and by English Heritage. This supplementary data was used to inform the assessment process in tandem with field analysis, which was undertaken during January and early February 2011. ES7 The assessment of the planning application’s impact on OUV was undertaken by a team led by Stephen Bond from the appointed consultant, Heritage Places. The team included senior professionals from the disciplines of conservation architecture, heritage planning, archaeology and strategic urban planning. Heritage Places was founded in 2008 and provides advice and professional services relating to the historic environment and its conservation for national and


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3 local government, public sector funding bodies, property management, development and institutional clients, charitable trusts, and other professional advisors. ES8 The methodology adopted for undertaking the impact assessment was based on the Department of Transport’s DMRB method, which previously has been applied to proposals within other WHSs, including some promoted and supported by English Heritage, and has been subject to scrutiny within the planning system, including Public Inquiries. This methodology uses significance as weighting to assessed impacts, so that the significance of effects of change resulting from implementation of the application can be evaluated. The assessment process was informed by English Heritage’s Conservation Principles (2008), particularly with respect to the identification of heritage values, and its ‘Seeing the History in the View’ draft guidance (2008) for the analysis of views. ES9 The assessment covered: • Direct and indirect impacts on 33 heritage assets previously identified as WHS attributes of OUV; • The impact on key views to and the setting of 15 strategic heritage assets within the wider WHS and its Buffer Zone; • The impact on 31 key views of the Central Docks identified during pre‐application consultations; • The impact on the 6 constituent WHS character areas; • The degree to which the proposals comply or vary from relevant local, national and international policy; • The degree to which the proposals comply with or vary from the guidance provided in the Liverpool WHS SPD; • The application’s delivery of ‘innovation’, being one intangible attribute of OUV that has consistently been identified as being of considerable importance to the WHS; • The cumulative impact of the application on the WHS and its OUV. ES10 During the assessment process, an anomaly was recognised in the DMRB methodology when applied to a regenerative scheme affecting a complex historic environment such as this. The methodology requires that all change impacting on a physical heritage asset and its setting is ascribed as being either wholly positive or wholly negative in its nature. It cannot deal with a situation where some change flowing from a particular aspect of development proposals is positive and some negative in impact. Thus, the methodology does not reflect the reality of a major development where heritage benefits and dis‐benefits may well accrue simultaneously. In order to overcome this anomaly, the assessment process established the two extremes of possible effects that could flow from rigorous adoption of the DMRB methodology, and a conclusion was then reached on the probable ‘true’ overall effect of the application, taking into account the specific circumstances [section 4.0.11]. 1 References in square parentheses to ‘section...’ in this Executive Summary relate to the main impact assessment report.


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Figure 1: WHS Character Areas (©LCC)


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Figure 2: General scheme overview provided to English Heritage as part of pre‐application information (© Peel Holdings/Chapman Taylor)


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Figure 3: Concept image of the ‘canal corridor’ from the application (©Peel Holdings/Chapman Taylor)


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4 Overview of principal findings ES11 The significance of the effects of the application upon key heritage assets and their settings within the application site and its wider setting will be [section 4.34]: Very large positive Large positive Moderate positive Slight positive Neutral/No change Slight negative Moderate negative Large negative Very large negative 0 0 0 1 9 4 6 7 6 Taken on balance, the application is deemed overall to have a moderate negative effect upon heritage assets within the WHS and its Buffer Zone that have been agreed as being key attributes of OUV. ES12 The impacts upon views to landmarks, key views to the application site and WHS, and on the WHS’s six Character Areas will be [sections 5.1.16, 5.2.32 and 6.7 respectively]: Major positive Moderate positive Minor positive Negligible positive Neutral/No change Negligible negative Minor negative Moderate negative Major negative Views to landmarks 0 0 0 0 8 0 1 4 2 Key views 0 0 1 1 5 3 6 7 8 Character areas 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 2 1 ES13 There are significant issues of non‐compliance with international, national and local policies, including Liverpool City Council’s UDP [section 7.4]. ES14 Compliance of the application against key policies in the SPD is [section 8.0]:


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5 Compliance with the SPD Partial compliance Neutral/too early to make assessment Yes No TOTALS 4 8 12 8 ES15 Cumulatively, despite delivery of some positive impacts including the safeguarding of the future of the principal individual heritage assets on the site through repair and reuse, the application will have a significantly damaging negative impact on the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile World Heritage Site and its OUV. The application will result in an array of negative impacts on OUV (a number of which will be of major magnitude), whilst harming aspects of the integrity and authenticity of the Stanley Dock Character Area and its intimate setting [section 10.2.1‐3]. ES16 The primary concerns about the application are that: • The vital relationship of the WHS Character Area with the river will be severely compromised through the placement of closely sited and some interlinked mid‐rise buildings on the river/sea wall • The two ‘islands’ of the single WHS Character Area will be divorced rather than linked by the excessive density and height of development in the intervening Buffer Zone • The legibility of the Central Docks and the central commercial core of the City will be damaged by the secondary cluster of tall buildings in the Buffer Zone • The nature of the proposed urbanisation of the canal corridor will accentuate its longitudinal characteristics at the expense of the important transverse form of Hartley’s docks within the WHS and Buffer Zone • The cumulative effect of the development in the Buffer Zone (that is, both the canal corridor and secondary cluster) will be to overwhelm the defining traditional characteristics of the area with opposing modern ones (in other words, low, horizontal and transverse historic emphases will be replaced by height, verticality and the longitudinal) • The setting of key heritage assets will be damaged by the scale and density of the development and its failure to respect fundamental notions of form and function which will damage the WHS’s authenticity • Key views to and from the Victoria Clock Tower, reflecting its symbolic and actual importance in historic dock management, will be lost • On the basis of information provided, there are significant concerns that the application may cause harm to the integrity of waterfront archaeology • The application seemingly fails to deliver technological innovation to a level commensurate with historical precedent • In summary, the development fails to deliver satisfactorily against the principal test set by WHS nomination and the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, namely that, in both the WHS Character Area ‘islands’ and in the Buffer Zone, the development should protect, respect and transmit the WHS’s OUV.


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6 In addition to the foregoing, the application is deficient in the following areas: • The desk‐based archaeological assessments that have been carried out so far provide a baseline of known data, but not an adequate characterisation of deposit or structural survival within the development area or satisfactory assessments of significance, the impact of proposals and associated mitigation strategies • Insufficient information is provided about the intended management strategy towards the conservation and repair of heritage assets • No information is provided on the approach that will be adopted towards the urgent repair of heritage assets, such as the Bramley Moore Hydraulic Engine House, that are in dilapidated and deteriorating condition • ‘Before’ and ‘after’ photomontages do not appear to have been provided in the application; those provided as pre‐application material appear to contain substantive errors, are not of appropriate form to convey the impacts of tall buildings, and fall a long way short of affording an adequate coverage of the site in order to assess the impact of the application properly. Additional detail about key findings ES17 Master plans spanning a period of as much as 30 years have a long history of partial implementation. The Liverpool Waters development is phased to commence in Princes Dock at the southern end of the site and will not approach the southern end of the WHS’s Stanley Dock Character Area (see Figure 1) for another 10 years. Development in the WHS itself, which includes the bulk of repair of surviving heritage assets such as dock walls, associated historic buildings and the historic dock infrastructure, will only start in around 25 years time. By that time, if planning permission is granted, the two tall buildings’ clusters in Princes Dock/King Edward Triangle and centrally in the Buffer Zone (see Figure 2), and urbanisation of the canal corridor (see Figures 2 and 3) and adjoining sea wall will be completed. There is a clear risk to the WHS’s OUV presented through partial implementation of this programme. This will need to be considered in any agreements that are negotiated as part of any approval process [section 10.2.3]. ES18 The impact assessment was conducted on the basis that the WHS boundary stands as it is. At the time of nomination, the boundary for WHS Character Area 3 was drawn tightly around the most visually coherent and demonstrably best preserved elements within the Central Docks system; the remainder was left within the WHS Buffer Zone. As a result, the single Character Area was divided into two ‘islands’ set in excess of 0.5km apart (see Figure 1 to this Executive Summary) and separated by Buffer Zone in which major regenerative development was foreseen – an arrangement that was always likely to lead to major conflicting development pressure and the risk of compromise and harm to OUV. Map regression and analysis of aerial photographs undertaken during the impact assessment process indicate strongly that the integrity of the infilled docks (which lie beneath the central ‘secondary’ tall buildings cluster and the adjoining mid‐rise development shown in Figure 2) may be substantially greater than was recognised at the time of WHS nomination and inscription. These three early docks form an integral and important part of the Central Docks, but now lie within the WHS’s Buffer Zone. Their exclusion from the WHS is potentially a serious anomaly. There are also grounds for considering that West Waterloo Dock to their south should be included within the WHS boundary. The boundary of the WHS is relevant to the impact assessment. The Operational


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7 Guidelines state that ‘[WHS] boundaries should be drawn to include all those areas and attributes which are a direct tangible expression of the outstanding universal value of the property, as well as those areas which in the light of future research possibilities offer potential to contribute to and enhance such understanding’. On these grounds, it is contended that the WHS boundaries to Character Area 3 may well have been too tightly drawn [sections 4.18, 4.33, 6.3 and 7.1.1]. ES19 Through its inscription in 2004, Liverpool’s WHS was recognised as being a place of significance transcending national boundaries that should be protected and preserved for the benefit of the international community as an ‘irreplaceable source of life and inspiration’. Its Buffer Zone has three specific functions: it is to be used to protect the OUV of the WHS and, as set out in the amended Statement of Outstanding Universal Value in 2010, development within it must ‘respect’ and ‘transmit’ that OUV ‐ those are immutable and non‐negotiable guiding principles for redevelopment in the Buffer Zone of the WHS [sections 10 and 6.3]. ES20 The protection of the WHS and its OUV is jeopardised by the intensive scale and density of the development proposed within the application. The river (or ‘sea’) wall will be the location for some of the larger mid‐rise buildings in the development (Figures 2 and 3), with the maximum height of many only just falling short of the WHS SPD’s definition of tall buildings (45m). The spacing between these buildings will mainly be low and some blocks will be interlinked, creating a long wall of development along the waterfront. As a result, views to and from the river and from surviving historic buildings will be severely curtailed. In the Buffer Zone between the two WHS Character Area islands, the planned secondary cluster of tall buildings and its undergrowth of mid‐rise buildings and the dense urbanisation of the corridor formed by the new extension to the Leeds‐Liverpool canal will greatly damage rather than ‘protect, respect and transmit’ the WHS’s OUV. The development proposals in this section of the Buffer Zone will: • Separate, not knit together, the two islands of the single WHS Character Area; • Sever historic connections and relationships between spaces, buildings and topographical elements, including the river; • Cuts across and obscure the important transverse historic orientation of the Central Docks; • Divert attention from the crucial continuity of character between the two WHS ‘islands’; • Undermine the central importance in the landscape and to OUV of heritage assets such as the Victoria Clock Tower, Clarence Graving Dock, and the Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse; and, • Damage the legibility of the historic (and modern urban) environment [sections 5.2, 6.3 and 10.2.2]. ES21 The application contains proposals for two clusters of tall buildings – one (dubbed the ‘dominant cluster’ in the City Council’s WHS SPD) at the southern end of the site close to the commercial heart of the City and a second (the ‘secondary cluster’) in the Buffer Zone separating the two WHS Character Area ‘islands’. The impact assessment found that there are grounds to support the ‘dominant cluster’ of tall buildings at the southern end of the Liverpool Waters site on the basis of improved urban form and morphology for the City’s commercial


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8 district, although the placement of tall buildings within the dock wall on the east side of Princes Dock is non‐compliant with SPD policy. There are also problems with their impact on some individual heritage assets, and doubts over whether the distribution and positioning of the tall buildings in the dominant southern cluster have currently been planned satisfactorily to generate the desired positive outcomes. The impacts of the secondary cluster on the WHS and its OUV are considered to be seriously and consistently negative, including divorcing the two ‘islands’ of the WHS Character Area, diminishing the dominance of key heritage assets such as the Waterloo and Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouses in the landscape, and damaging the legibility of the historic (and modern urban) environment [sections 5.2, 6.3, 10.2.1 and 10.2.2]. ES22 Taking the application at face value, many key heritage assets within the WHS will not be repaired for 25 to 30 years. This could result in great harm to their fabric, integrity and contribution to OUV. When the time arrives for their repair, no certainty is provided within the application of the approach that will be adopted to their repair or the materials and skills that will be utilised. Again, this could result in lasting harm to their fabric, integrity and contribution to OUV. Balanced against these concerns, if repaired appropriately and always in a timely fashion, the impact of the proposals should be benign and positive on their fabric. The application does not provide sufficient information to determine which of these impacts is the more likely. Accordingly, within the assessment, the impact of repair proposals on the fabric of heritage assets was scored as ‘neutral’ or ‘no change’, unless specific cause existed to score otherwise. ES23 The information provided within the application is deficient in another significant way. In theory, there is considerable potential for development activities at Liverpool Waters to cause major harm to archaeological remains of very high significance both in the WHS and in its Buffer Zone within the dock walls. The application ‐ whilst containing some very useful accounts of cultural heritage assets including archaeology – fails to provide sufficient information to demonstrate the probable degree of survival of remains of importance in areas of potential conflict. Accepting that this is an outline application, it does not provide sufficient analysis to comply with PPS5 Policy HE6.1 which requires an applicant ‘to provide a description of the significance of the heritage assets affected... sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on the significance of the heritage asset... Where an application site includes, or is considered to have the potential to include, heritage assets with archaeological interest, local planning authorities should require developers to submit an appropriate desk‐based assessment and, where desk‐based research is insufficient to properly assess the interest, a field evaluation’. The applicant’s own impact assessment is a desk‐based exercise – no targeted geophysical survey or trenching have been carried out to support claims in the application that there will be no negative impacts whatsoever from intervention into historic fabric, including buried archaeology. This independent impact assessment has concluded that the proposals in the application as they are shown have the potential to compromise archaeology of importance: • Through insertion of underground parking across historic dock walls, into the bottoms of dock basins, and into the fill of historic quaysides;


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9 • By ‘sandwiching’ of historic dock walls between two separate underground parking structures; • Through the impact of building foundations; • As a result of site servicing infrastructure; • Through impact from proposed landscaping features [section 4.33]. Such potential compromise of archaeological remains across the site would, in PPS5 terms, amount to substantial harm to the significance of waterfront archaeology. Policy HE9.2 of PPS5 requires the local planning authority to refuse consent in such circumstances unless the applicant can demonstrate that the substantial harm to or loss of significance can be justified. No justification is provided for substantial harm of this kind anywhere in the application. ES24 The application is also non‐compliant with PPS5 in that: • The information contained within the application is insufficient to demonstrate the level of survival of archaeological remains. The assessment of significance of such remains in the WHS Buffer Zone has been found to be deficient and accordingly the impact assessment accompanying the application is believed to be unreliable in certain aspects (PPS5 Policy HE6.1). • Irrespective of the outline status of the application, it is probable that desk‐based research will not be sufficient ‘to properly assess the interest’ of waterfront archaeology as a heritage asset, in which case, additional field evaluation is called for by PPS5 Policy HE6.1. • The development will have a major negative impact on the Stanley Dock Character Area of the WHS because some proposals in its Buffer Zone fail to protect, respect and transmit OUV and will lead to harm being caused to the significance and OUV of the WHS (PPS5 Policies HE7.2, HE7.4, HE10.1 & HE10.2). • The concept proposals within the application do not exhibit sufficient local distinctiveness to respect the character and value of the WHS (PPS5 Policy HE7.5) – see Figure 3. • The scale, density and massing of the proposed development are of an inappropriate nature and degree, given the sensitivity of the site and the heritage assets involved. This relates especially (but not exclusively) to the proposals along the length of the listed sea wall, in the secondary cluster of tall and mid‐rise buildings on the infilled Clarence and Trafalgar Docks, in the urbanisation of the canal corridor, and around Clarence Graving Dock. These issues represent a significant negative impact on the WHS’s OUV (PPS5 Policy HE7.5). ES25 Circular 07/2009 on the ‘Protection of World Heritage Sites’ provides updated guidance on the level of protection and management required for World Heritage Sites. It is supported by an English Heritage ‘Guidance Note on the Protection of World Heritage Sites’, which has been endorsed by the Government. Paragraph 12 of the Circular requires local planning authorities in England to protect WHSs and their settings, including any buffer zones, from inappropriate development, whilst paragraph 7.11 of the Guidance Note reinforces the point that ‘Protection of a site is about the prevention of activities which might damage its Outstanding Universal Value, authenticity and integrity either in the site itself or through the effects of development in its setting, including any buffer zone’. The impact assessment demonstrates that in many different ways the application puts at risk Liverpool WHS’s OUV and, accordingly,


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10 it constitutes inappropriate development. Grant of planning permission for the application as its stands would constitute non‐compliance on the part of Liverpool City Council with the spirit and intent of Circular 07/2009 and the related English Heritage Guidance Note [section 7.2.3]. ES26 Liverpool City Council is currently preparing its Core Strategy. The policies in the adopted Unitary Development Plan (2002) have been retained until the adoption of a Local Development Framework. The application is non‐compliant with the City Council’s UDP in relation to its policies HD5 (development affecting the setting of a listed building), HD11 (new development in conservation areas ‐ sub clauses 1 (i) and (ii) and 2 (i), (ii) and (iii) thereof), HD12 (new development adjacent to conservation areas), HD16 (scheduled monuments), HD17 (protection of archaeological remains) and HD18 (general design requirements ‐ sub clauses (i) and (ii) thereof). On those grounds, the City Council’s UDP demands that planning permission should not be granted for the application as its stands [section 7.3]. ES27 The World Heritage Convention requires member states to identify, protect, conserve, present and transmit to future generations their World Heritage Sites. This requirement is expanded in the ‘Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention’ (2008). The impact assessment demonstrates that the application will have a negative impact upon different attributes of the WHS’s OUV. In a number of instances, after careful consideration, the cumulative impact has been found to be moderate negative or major negative on attributes of OUV, with identifiable risks being posed to the WHS’s integrity and authenticity. The City Council is tasked under paragraph 98 of the Operational Guidelines with having in place and implementing regulatory measures that ‘assure the survival of the [Liverpool WHS] and its protection against development and change that might negatively impact the OUV, or the integrity and authenticity of the property’. The grant of planning permission for the application as its stands would constitute non‐compliance on the part of Liverpool City Council with paragraph 98 of the ‘Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention’ (2008) [section 7.1.1]. ES28 Objective 5.2 of the approved WHS Management Plan (2003) states that Liverpool City Council will ‘Ensure that new development respects the significance of the Site and is appropriate to the historic urban grain and the architectural and townscape context’. The impact assessment has found that the application fails to protect, respect and transmit the WHS’s OUV. The grant of planning permission for the application as its stands would constitute non‐compliance on the part of Liverpool City Council with this objective of the WHS Management Plan [section 7.1.1].

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