Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Liverpool World Heritage Status In Ruins-A Third World Country Could Manage The Site Better.

Waking Up To Reality

Local blogger Correspondent gives his slant on World Heritage reality, about to hit home.
It is worth recalling some of the worst headlines from the now(deservedly) defunct Daily Ghost. 
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
A hazy state of semi-consciousness gives way to the sobering light of day. Half-remembered recollections of intoxicated excess & its attendant claims induce an initial cringe. Then comes the shudder, the mortifying realisation that things were said which owed more to conceitedness than careful consideration. The empty bottles tell their own story. Reality dawns. Too late.

One presumes that a collective shake of the head was in order at Oldham Hall Street today as Alastair Machray, et al, finally understood the ramifications of Peel's Liverpool Waters on the city's World Heritage Site status (  ).

Over at the city council, meanwhile, Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson looks in the mirror, a smile on his face as he ponders his attire for that big day at the Palace ( ). A minion timorously knocks on the door. Irritated to have his royal reverie abruptly curtailed, Joe brusquely snatches the copy of the Oldham Echo that is proffered by the hapless assistant & reads the comments he's OKed for publication:

"The main concerns raised about heritage issues on Liverpool Waters will not become an issue for several years as they focus on later stages of the project -- they will not be built for at least 10 years -- and detailed plans my be subject to change before then.

"We believe firmly that is is possible to have a world-class development while still retaining our world heritage status."

Joe knows it's hogwash, but he'd rather get back to his day at Buck House (what to say, how to act, perfecting that all-important bow). Never mind the fact that WHS status is now up for review by UNESCO in St Petersburg this weekend ( ).

Rewind a few hours & back on Oldham Hall Street the struggle to clear minds isn't easy. Someone helpfully recalls an editorial from last February & its dismissive one-liner about Liverpool's WHS (  ):

"It's a great accolade to have, but some things are more important."

There's a tumbleweed moment in the office. Silence is followed by an embarrassed clearing of the throat & a muffled aside about getting on with some work.

Big Al Machray looks bewildered. Then irritated. Then purposeful. He calls together the finest minds at his disposal, an Echo Brains Trust, if you will. Drafting an editorial, they know it has to reflect Oldham Hall Street's new-found sobriety in discussing UNESCO's impending decision ( ):

"But as [UNESCO] prepare for their discussions, we would ask the committee members to be mindful that this is a city which is constantly evolving and improving -- and the waterfront must be a part of this positive development.

"The last thing this city wants to do is destroy its heritage, and we have no intention of allowing that to happen. We also have no intention of missing out on an exciting and ambitious scheme which aims to revive and regenerate the depressed northern docklands -- providing new hope, new opportunities and new jobs."

Heads are nodded in agreement that the latter point is sufficiently vague & poorly-researched for inclusion in an Echo editorial.

So far, so good. However, a concluding sentence is needed, one that combines a tacit acknowledgement that Liverpool Waters has terminal implications for the city's WHS with a reminder that the Echo is chronically addicted to the press releases issued by the Peel behemoth:

"Trust us to carry on combining the new and the old -- and allow us to retain the status you gave us, while continuing to look to the future."

Will that do, someone asks. There's a furrowing of brows, sotto voce reservations emanate from one or two & Big Al's most loyal lieutenants gaze at their efforts admiringly. Judgment is arrived at. That'll do, is the verdict.

Joe, meanwhile, resumes his thoughts about that day at the Palace. Across the city of which he is Mayor the cuts continue & Peel Holdings wait expectantly for UNESCO to do their worst.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Liverpool to be placed on Unesco World Heritage Site In Danger List.

A third world country could be excused for allowing itself to destroy one of its cities best assets a WHS, but the UK government have allowed the Spivs of Liverpool to do deals with dodgy builders such as Peel Holdings that will allow the WHS to be irreversibly damaged beyond repair.
It is obvious to our minds that Joe Anderson has done a Peel Deal that allows him to get the vote winning cruise liner terminal at the nod of Peel who had control of the customs facility in exchange for nodding the plans through.

What an utter embarrassment our new Mayor, will prove to be the felected Mayor who gets us on the Unesco "In Danger" list.
This was a further frustrated warning from Unesco after the plans were passed after the Unesco monitoring mission gave advice against going ahead with Liverpool Waters
 Just as the image of the city has been changed in the minds of people further afield and across the world we get an ill educated council leader voted in by the populace who have been force fed with the empty promises of job creation.
But in reality Peel want the the WHS scrapped so they can build Shanghai-On-Mersey and increases the land value for a sell on when the time comes.

Joe Anderson being driven by Peel.

City council grants planning permission for development scheme at World Heritage site “Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City”

Thursday, March 8, 2012

On 6 March 2012, Liverpool City Council’s Planning Committee granted outline planning permission for the Peel Holdings £5.5bn Liverpool Waters scheme. The permission is subject to the signing of a legal agreement and has to be referred to the Government which will decide whether a public inquiry will be held.
Experts from UNESCO's World Heritage Centre and from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) undertook a reactive monitoring mission from 14 to 16 November 2011 to assess planning procedures and the overall development strategies for the World Heritage property “Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City”.
The mission report, together with its conclusions and recommendations, was transmitted to State Party of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 23 January 2012.
While the mission acknowledged the need for regeneration of the World Heritage property, at the same time it provided clear recommendations concerning the proposed development and referred particularly to the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape.
The mission report together with a report on the latest developments will be submitted to the World Heritage Committee which will examine the property's state of conservation at the World Heritage Committee's 36th session (Saint Petersburg, 24 June - 6 July 2012).

 Incidentally Unesco are using a view of Mann Island that has now been obliterated by Three Black Coffins on Mann Island. Just look at what was there before and the views as they are now.

Two views of Mann Island before and after.

Liverpool Waters-Will Lead to Liverpool Being Placed on Unesco WHS Sites "At Risk"

Liverpool Waters – review
If it goes ahead, the multibillion-pound Liverpool Waters scheme will destroy the city's historic character

Liverpool Waters: 'a wannabe Dubai, or a Shanghai-lite'. writes Rowan Moore in the Guardian/Observer

"We just want to be left alone, to make our own judgments," says Joe Anderson, the forthright, newly minted, directly elected mayor of Liverpool and before that leader of the city's council. He is talking about Liverpool Waters, a development at the scale of Canary Wharf and designed like Dubai, covering 60 hectares with clusters of skyscrapers and 1.7 million sq metres of offices, homes and shopping. It will create, says Anderson, 17,000 jobs and bring in £5.5bn of investment.

His only problem is that the proposed development partly straddles a world heritage site, and includes within its boundary some of the mightiest docks and warehouses of the Industrial Revolution. Just outside are the Three Graces, the majestic Edwardian commercial buildings that, along with its two cathedrals, define the image of the city. Being a world heritage site means that new development has to respect and enhance what is called its "outstanding universal value", something which Unesco says the development signally fails to do. English Heritage and Cabe (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment ) have persistently objected to aspects of the scheme, despite which Liverpool city council granted it outline planning permission in March. The question now is whether Eric Pickles, as secretary of state for communities and local government, decides to hold a public inquiry.

According to Unesco, the outstanding universal value of the site "would be irreversibly damaged if the development goes ahead". English Heritage says that "the setting of some of Liverpool's most significant historic buildings will be severely compromised, the archaeological remains of parts of the historic docks are at risk of destruction, and the city's historic urban landscape will be permanently unbalanced". It also says that the information provided by the developer, the Peel Group, and the architectural practice, Chapman Taylor, is not sufficient for an application of this importance, and that their assessments are inadequate.

Cabe says that the scheme neither "articulates a vision for Liverpool Waters" nor demonstrates how its elements "have been integrated into a coherent whole". The developer's "design principles" are not "organised or expressed in a meaningful way" and do not give confidence that they "will provide a sound basis by which to control design quality". It says that the official guidance for proposing tall buildings has not been followed. It's unusual to find so much unanimity among the various bodies charged with expressing views on major projects. What they are saying, in their measured consultee-speak, is that it stinks.

Looking at the proposals you can see their point. The development's towers would loom large behind the Three Graces and, large though they are, the old warehouses would become bits of flotsam in a sea of what, until it is proved otherwise, looks like very average commercial development. There is no sign whatsoever of an attempt to make a relationship between the new buildings and the old. Instead, from its first proposals five years ago, Peel has kept proposing essentially the same thing: a wannabe Dubai, or a Shanghai-lite, plonked carelessly next to the historic buildings. Anderson talks of reviving the pride of the city's forefathers, but there is little pride in these knock-offs of other cities.

Liverpool city council and Peel jointly agreed that their aim was an "aspirational scheme" which will "create a new sense of place", but there is nothing in the images to suggest anything other than generic blandness. Also, that it would "integrate" the site's heritage with "exciting and sustainable new development". It doesn't. And that it would "draw on the unique identity of the site and the city to… reinforce Liverpool's strong identity". Again there is absolutely no sign of this. These words are products of a busy day at the flannel factory.

It's not just that the designs are not very good, but also that Peel has declined requests by Cabe and English Heritage to demonstrate fully how it would achieve the sort of architectural quality and sensitivity to the past which everyone in theory agrees is a good thing. (Nor, for that matter, would it answer a simple request for information for this article.)

The planning permission it has is for an outline scheme, with detailed design to be decided later. It permits a lot of big buildings without showing the architectural genius by which it would make them beautiful. The burden of proof is with Peel to show that dense clusterings of very large buildings would not trash the surroundings, but that proof has not been supplied. Possibly because it's impossible to prove this point – that there is such a thing as too big and too tall on this site which no amount of design can massage away.

There are, of course, all those jobs, and it would be a rash and heartless politician who would snatch away thousands of potential livelihoods from Liverpudlians for the sake of what Anderson has called "a certificate on the wall in the town hall", by which he means the world heritage site status. Except that this is to make the large assumptions that Peel will find £5.5bn of capital that it doesn't currently have, and that Liverpool will suddenly discover enough office demand to fill this massive development.

A more likely outcome is that the favourable planning permission will allow the Peel Group to write up the value of the site on its balance sheets. It will have also established principles, if they can be called that, that will allow Peel to do almost whatever it wants with the site in the future. Liverpool would lose twice – the city wouldn't get all the promised jobs, and its heritage would be compromised.

It is in fact possible to have both development and respect for the past. Anderson says that this is his aim, and that Liverpool Waters achieves it. That Unesco, Cabe and English Heritage, plus several other bodies, disagree with him is, he says, "a matter of opinion", which ignores the fact that theirs are considered expert opinions that are in theory given weight by the planning process. It is not that they should always have the last word, but when there is such a chorus of disapproval on such a significant site, it demands to be addressed more seriously than has so far happened.

Anderson also urges me to look at Peel's original proposals to see how many concessions it has made. I do, and I see that they were even more overbearing than the present ones, but not fundamentally different. I see one of the oldest ploys in developers' books: start with something more than outrageous, with the aim of achieving the merely outrageous. Liverpool should be smart enough not to fall for that one.

Pickles will be lobbied to the effect that he should encourage business and localism and leave Liverpool Waters alone, but if ever a project demanded a public inquiry it is this. It is a site of national and international importance – as the world heritage site designation recognises – where serious and legitimate concerns have been raised, and have not been adequately dealt with by the local authority. According to the World Heritage Convention, signed by Britain, the government "has a duty to protect, conserve, present and transmit the property to future generations". Waving Peel's project through would not fulfil this duty.

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Gregson, Garmoyle Road L15-Worth The Effort To Have It Listed.

It seems after we had it listed under threat of demolition there have been some community ideas and its good to see one coming to fruition. Today's Liverpool Echo sees a good news article from Peter Elson.

We wish them all the best for the future.
Ex Auctioneer and advisor to Liverpool Museums, Dr Eldon Worrell (who is the rat now trying to flog the Ince Blundell marbles) (or should we say advising the Nuns), asked Wayne in his capacity as an art dealer to value the tiles that line the walls and when he was notified of its impending demolition by Florence Gersten he made an application to spotlist it, and English Heritage said that the interior was of such National significance that it was Grade II spotlisted.

Peter Elson writes
After years of dereliction, the Gregson Memorial Institute, on Garmoyle Road, Wavertree, with its acclaimed tiled interiors, will hold its first indoor market on Sunday June 24.
It has taken two years for Catherine Odita to restore the rotting Gregson to a usable state and she has worked with her cousin, Natasha Odita, to set up the indoor market.
Already 35 stalls are booked with more likely to be added, selling second-hand goods and handicrafts, from midday to 5pm. Future markets will be on the last Sunday of each month.
The institute was built in 1897 by Isabella Gregson in honour of her family as an art gallery, museum and lecture theatre.
Under threat of demolition in 1994, Liverpool City Council passed the Gregson to a new charitable trust set up by local people for £5.
It was used for activities such as Boy Scout groups, children’s drama school and a polling station. As its condition worsened the trustees put it on sale for £200,000, with demolition most likely.
Heritage campaigner Wayne Colquhoun had it English Heritage Grade 2 listed in 2008 because of its outstanding tiled interior, the day before a planning meeting sealed its fate.
Natasha, who runs Camp Cupcakes, on Smithdown Road, said: “The Gregson Institute was once a pivotal place in Wavertree community life.

“Catherine’s spent a lot of hard work, money and time renovating it, replacing over 100 panes of glass in skylights and sorting out cracks all over the building.
Chat, Make Friends & Play Bingo at Mecca “I thought it would be good to get the community back in and we’ve already got a cafe. We’ve done as much as we can afford, so everything from the indoor markets will be reinvested to keep the renovation going.”
Art dealer Wayne Colquhoun said: “The Sunday indoor markets are an amazing idea.
“This is what I hoped would happen when I had the Gregson listed as the building needs to live and breathe for the community.
“The interior is a surprising gem, with tiled peacock friezes probably made by the famous Minton factory, like the tiles in St George’s Hall.”