Move comes after Unesco threatened to withdraw city’s World Heritage Site status

Helen Hayes

Liverpool council has appointed a consortium led by London-based planning and design consultancy Urban Initiatives Studio to come up with a tall buildings policy for the city.

The council is seeking to strengthen its position around the development of tall buildings after Unesco threatened last year to pull the city’s World Heritage Site status over concerns about the impact of a number of proposed high-rise schemes, including two residential blocks of 31 and 15-storeys located a short distance from the historic Pier Head area.

Liverpool won a stay of execution over the Unesco threat by creating an initial tall buildings policy for the next incarnation of its core strategic-development document, called the Liverpool Local Plan.

But government heritage adviser Historic England said it would not support the key document if it did not go into more detail and demanded the council appoint consultants to prepare technical evidence to support its planning policy approach to tall buildings across the city.

The council announced last October it would spend up to £80,000 on consultants who would pull together fresh guidance to ensure new developments “respected the significance of the World Heritage Site” and take into account the setting of historic buildings.

Working with Chris Bland Associates, UIS – which has worked on similar studies in London, Belfast and Bath – will undertake research and publish a draft report for key stakeholders, including Historic England, while public feedback will be sought in the summer.

The resulting supplementary planning document will used to assess the appropriate height, design and location of tall buildings in Liverpool in relation to existing buildings and the wider environment.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said the new tall buildings policy would be crucial in helping to shape the city’s landscape and setting expectations for architectural design.

“Liverpool has a unique set of characteristics, most notably our historic buildings and we need to define where tall buildings will be best situated.

“We want to achieve that delicate balance between encouraging development and complementing the quality of Liverpool’s existing architecture.”

A final draft report will be submitted to Liverpool city council’s cabinet for formal adoption before the end of this year.