Morrison had been in joint venture with Liverpool City Council to build a £120m mixed-use lottery scheme on the Chavasse Park site. But the council lost a Court of Appeal ruling to build its project because developer Walton Group had secured an option on the site in March 1996. This gave Walton the right to develop the site if funding was not raised for an alternative scheme by an agreed date.
In the battle over the site, Liverpool City Council argued that its scheme should go ahead, but the Court of Appeal found that Walton’s plan took precedence because the council had been too slow to secure funding for its scheme.
Sources close to Morrison Developments said managing director Martin Winward was now seeking a meeting with Walton Group chairman Bill Davies to see if the parties could team up. This could open the door for Morrison to carry out construction work on the site.
However, there are now doubts that the scheme will be approved in its present form. Sources close to Liverpool City Council said that, although it was unlikely to challenge the ruling in the House of Lords, it was also unlikely to grant planning permission for the Walton scheme.
People in Liverpool will be deeply disappointed by this decision
Mike Storey, Liverpool City Council
A Walton spokesman said the firm expected to unveil plans any day for a £160m retail scheme, similar in scale to Manchester’s vast Trafford Centre. But Liverpool City Council is already committed to providing large-scale shopping facilities in other parts of the city centre and would be unlikely to approve another scheme that would generate heavy traffic.
Liverpool City Council leader Mike Storey said: “Clearly, people in Liverpool will be deeply disappointed by this decision. We will now need some time to consider the full implications of the ruling in this complex matter.”
But the Walton spokesman insisted that its scheme would be for the public good, particularly as it was offering to provide funding for a £30m Discovery Park that was to have been part of the council’s lottery project.