Without Prejudice

Without Prejudice

Photo above: Everton FC’s current Goodison Park home could be replaced by affordable housing, a health centre, community-led retail spaces and a youth enterprise zone etc when the club moves into its new stadium

This article is the subject of a book to be produced by Bill McGarry who has had direct involvement with community groups as a planner for many years and is able to offer a balanced evaluation of the planning and has experience in this stimulating and interesting planning and regeneration story.

By Bill McGarry

Planning is the mediation of space and making of place. (Royal Town Planning Institute). This has perhaps particular relevance where the mediation of space and making of place is in the context where large scale football clubs are sharing urban space with local communities and who very futures are inextricably linked and are mediated through the planning and development process. This is also true of Liverpool and its Docklands as we shall see.

Liverpool has a rich footballing and community history and where development has rapidly increased most recently over the past 10 years in the particular case of one of those Liverpool Clubs. The Liverpool economy is directly linked to service sector offers and none more principally than the operation of its two premier league football clubs namely Liverpool LFC and Everton LFC.

EVERTON FOOTBALL CLUB AND THE DOCKLAND AREA AND THE COMMUNITY

The most recent announcement of Everton Football Club ( EFC) is for a new grounds at Bramley Moore Dock within the Liverpool Waters Scheme. However from a planning and community engagement point of view what can planners learn from regeneration and its interaction at the coal face of planning with community groups and premier league football clubs.

Everton’s lead here has been significant with the clubs close ties with the local community historically resulting in many schemes to involve local people, create training for jobs and enterprise with links to health promotion, projects in the community area where the ground lies.

Interestingly as regards EFC stated intention to move their ground to Bramley Moore Dock they have indicated that their present ground when vacated will be used as a legacy project embedded in the local community as indicated in an official document presented to the Council Cabinet and where , a passage reads : “EFC intend to use the Stadium move to facilitate a vital Legacy Project at Goodison Park, delivering health, education, affordable housing and public spaces for the local community which is likely to stimulate further investment in the L4 area and will create social, environmental and economic benefits. Details of this will emerge from EFC in due course.” This of course is to be praised.

However their proposed move to the new ground is not without contention since residents in nearby areas to Bramley Moore Dock have expressed concerns. Of course EFC have carried out extensive community based consultation pre-lockdown and await a new planning application to be submitted.

Some of the local communities however feel that there are serious concerns to be addressed by the City Council over issues such as the growth of traffic to access the stadium which include massing of crowds on foot travelling through the south of the City and on to the Bramley Moore Dock causing pollution problems and issues emanating for retail quick food outlets along the length of the access roads passing i.e. Waterloo Dock.

Also parking in or near residential areas even though the council claim they will address all of this. There are al concerns over waste generation form the building works and extensive noise pollution an additional issue since there is already building works going in right now in the area from perceived over development
There is also a most serious issue concerning the implications for the retention of Liverpool World Heritage Status with the proposed development. The area is near the WHS area and as such will impact upon the decision of UNESCO currently considering the WHS retention as they consider the development impact upon the historical and heritage aspect of the area. Apparently the Council consider economic deliverance as more important.

My argument here as a community based planning consultant is that Heritage and economic multiplier effects are strongly linked as Liverpool will become even more reliant on visitors to this World renowned Heritage area for future growth. Indeed the National Planning Policy framework also emphasises this point.

Another serious and contentious issue in this area is the proposals for the Waterloo dock area. These docks were designed by Hartley to service sailing ships and focus on the trade between the Americas and West Indies. The Dock has very strong heritage links to name just a few is part of the Unesco World heritage site, the site of the first observatory, the site of the worlds first grain warehouse, the site of embarkation for many of those escaping the Irish potato famine to travel to the New World.

Waterloo Dock is now subject to a recent planning application (18F/3247) which seeks to partially fill in the dock and erect blocks of hundreds of flats on the reclaimed land. The development to build six high rise blocks has subsequently been amended for lower rise developments. ( updated December 2019 to erect 4 by 10 story blocks.

However even the new scale and density will almost totally obscure the views of the historic grade 1 listed Waterloo Warehouse form the River and the Wirral. Of course this will matter on a number of counts. Firstly Visitors will not see the historical Waterloo Dock form the river on regular cruises ships etc and so will be disinclined to make a special visits to the Dock they cant even see form the River and so links to economic development will be negatively affected. Of course the loss of views to residents will also be negatively affected.

My role in in the British Waterways Liverpool Canal Link successful regeneration project for instance strongly emphasised in the business plan the strong links between heritage in Liverpool in this area as the canal winds its way through his area on its way all the way to Leeds making it possible for boaters and visitors to relate to impressive Industrial Architecture associated with the Liverpool Port as far back as the 1800sas the Trading City of the Empire. Any development in this area therefore needs to be sensitive to design and heritage not just monotone functional massed tower blocks.

Unesco has also previously warned and many heritage organisations have previously objected to proposals to infill West Waterloo Dock highlighting risks and the seriousness of risk to this heritage asset. However whilst the deadline for objecting to the development etc in the Planning process and we await the the Planning Committee hearing has passed.

There is however still time to contact your MP/ Councillors and City Council to writ in if you agree with these objections to this proposed development highlighting the issues. The planning application is due to be heard relatively soon at the City Council Planning Committee.

In addition there has also been another important development. There is a new outline planning application (OPP) 10O/2424 where the applicant is seeking to amend the plots of land/ Development Parcels approved in 2013 to generically increase the plot sizes and Heights.

It would appear if this is approved would allow the developer peel to possibly develop more of West Waterloo Dock in principle. It may also be the case that if they gain permission to extend plot CO2 by 58 metres south this could join plot CO1 at the Isle of Mann ferry terminal allowing for the development of the full length of the Dock which would be a real intensification of development in this area.

It is an amendment to Peel’s outline planning permission (OPP) 10O/2424. In plain English the applicant is seeking to amend the plots/development parcels approved in 2013. It has no connection to 18F/3247. The application isn’t for any specific development rather an increase in size of plots and heights.

The amendment, if approved may permit the applicant, Peel to develop more of West Waterloo Dock than previously agreed (2013).  This could lead to possible over development in this area not suited to an open green and blue area where the need for space and i.e. walking is central to physical and mental health in a post Covid world.

To access the application 20NM/1801, go to the LCC planning portal and search 20NM/1801 to access ‘related documents’ from the list to research and form your objection if you wish to do so this has now been extended to the 3rd of September 2020.

However as indicated earlier any objections even after the Planning submission legal date to receive formal planning objections can still be made to the City Council and MPS Councillors etc as part of a wider consideration.

I am not anti development but pro development that will enhance our heritage and economic interests in a post Covid world for future generations, indeed the Scrutiny Committee of the City Council has looked at fractional sales of i.e. as part of its deliberations upon the effects of mass tower block type developments and possible negative consequences for the Liverpool economy.

My friend lives in the Waterloo Dock area and like myself is a Masters Graduate in Business and has worked tirelessly campaigning using i.e. media links, placing many fliers, attending meetings attending Cultural events highlighting the whole campaign to Save Waterloo Dock and has continually emphasised these points that the residents generally are not against development but that heritage and development are strongly linked to Liverpool future growth.

This is really serious issue about Liverpool’s future as a heritage city and for future generations. Jobs and Heritage go together. I for one as part of of a team built these observations for the marketing and business plan for the Liverpool canal Link and that why it archived funding offering visitors the opportunity to observe all this important heritage.

The images above indicate the concerns for the Waterloo Dock as it exists now and the image of it with the new proposed development indicating enclosure

Other issues are about design. The proposals in various Master plan for the North Docks in general i.e. scale and height and symmetry of buildings are mundane and massed. Obviously more details designs will emanate form individual planning applications for those areas.

However I think Citizen Design Panels should have been introduced to more precisely inform design statements taking account of the Maritime and trading past of this area and inform developers of quality design and links to the past. An opportunity to look at recognising all of the heritage aspects for all which could include designs reflecting recognition of the Human trade. Again the NPPF recognises the connection between good design and heritage and economic development.

For those who feel decisions have already been made. It is useful to remember that there was a lot of community feeling over the retention of the Welsh Streets for instance where the Council embarked on a large Public enquiry and where they felt sure they were going to achieve a win over the Liverpool community and for which I was involved as a community observer and objector and other outside bodies objections were also made against la arge scale clearance of a heritage housing area also involving a Housing Association.

Interesting after all that public money on QCs and consultants and a Planning Inspectors confirmation of the scheme a Tory Minister overturned the planning application and the Welsh streets were substantially kept and improved to a real heritage specification. So there is some food for thought there.

LIVERPOOL FOOTBALL CLUB AND THE COMMUNITY

The operations of Liverpool Football club (LFC) in a comparative context area have seen a plethora of planning and regeneration initiatives and community concerns over their area.

The local community nearest to the LFC ground have experienced the operations of Planning and regeneration complexity and ineffectual decision making over many years. The incidence where such indecision of the club over moving into Stanley Park with successive planning applications and stated objectives over a ten year period and then reverted to expanded expanding LFC had resulted in the bitter experience by the community as they experienced related blight possible CPO implications , property devaluations and lack of confidence in their area and both physical and economic decline and negative multiplier effects.

The expectations of the community were further put back by the discovery of Anfield Plus 1999 a plan between the City Council and arena Housing at the time a plan to demolish many houses on Lothair and Alroy Roads for two enlarged LFCF stands associated also with a food and drink and retail area but with obvious perceived negative implications for those households.

In 2007 the club was finally sold after all those years of indecision and perceived manipulation by the community to new owners in 2007 to the present owners to raise necessary capital for the first expansion of the ground. The latter years have seen the eventual present relatively successful regeneration with associated new housing developments with YHG refurbishments and new build by private developers and advanced developments in Walton Breck Road Anfield.

LFC now wish to expand their Main the Anfield Road stand to accommodate a bigger fan base with consequential necessary increase in revenue in order to buy expensive players for the successful involvement an s a premier league football team.

With expansion of the Main road stand associated with the post planning and development of Alroy and Lothair Road having been successfully completed some year ago now. Attention now also focuses for LFC on the expansion of Anfield Road Stand with outline planning permission has already been achieved and for which a full planning application is apparently to be made in the near future. The closures of Anfield Road for consequential road operations etc. has resulted in consequential road disturbances over some past 4 years in which some hoteliers have expressed their complaints over interference with their businesses at loss of visitors being able to easily access their premises on the western edge of Anfield road. And for which no compensation they feel has been made.

Typical view of an area in the spiral of Decline; Tinned up Houses 2000s

However there are still marked contrast between the two areas of Anfield and Everton coffers and the incidence of economic decline which surrounds the areas. Liverpool made £364m in revenues last year and a £40m profit in previous year and with huge profits yet to be announced form winning the Premier League in 2020. The profit margin increase due to corporate fans accommodated in the newly built main stand. EFC still managed to make some £222 Million in preceding year.

Whilst the incidence of relative poverty and economic decline are still stark and where 11 of the neighborhoods are among the most deprived one per cent in England. In Anfield 43 per cent of children live in poverty in Everton 49 per cent of children were in poverty according to the City Councils indicators.

Perhaps the finale to all of this planning and regeneration over all these long years will be the last front line war between the residents of a nearby street and LFC, LCC and other agencies for the last batch of residents who will be most affected in the area by current development and planning activity where these local residents directly from a proposed development for a hotel on land directly opposite. Which is within the curtilage of the operations of the club.

These long suffering residents have experienced the claimed blighting of their street by long term decline in the light of the wider ramifications of LCC and LFC regeneration where their properties on the odd side had years of blighting associated with increasing voids and anti social behaviour (ASB) associated with people losing confidence and leaving this street and again with consequential affects for Pulford street residents on the opposite side. These comprise a mix of owner occupiers and those renting.

The discussions with LCC have reached somewhat of an impasse between some residents since they wish to have their street protected form the regular seasonal incursion of football fans and for which LCC merely promises to perhaps provide some bollarding to the end of the street and for which the residents feel this will be an ineffective and cheap measure. The residents experience seasonal (ASB) associated with fan inebriation and knocking on house windows etc. and even though plans exist to block off the other end of the road which accesses a back entry area leading onto Alroy road some local residents believe this will not stop inebriated fans engaging in ASB.

In addition the proposed hotel some feel will result in obvious additional Noise generation with cars and people coming and going day and night. The protective boundary the Council proposes with boundary planter and fencing will also not properly mitigate noise disturbance.

Residents have repeatedly requested in essence the ability to park cars immediately outside of their dwellings and the protected frontages to their small terraced properties with extensions to the pavement areas thus extending their house frontages with adjacent protected areas between each frontage and also to take back the proposed fencing another metre or so into the proposed hotel frontage area so that the council proposed additional car parking could be accommodated with the expansion of the frontages of the houses.

The Council have completely excluded this possibility as they claim that this would require the resisting of utilities which could cost as much as £1M pounds that would be completely unacceptable costs. An advisor has also requested that LFC be approached to consider funding but the council have not been accommodating here.

In planning and regeneration then the questions are all about resources and costs and benefits. The benefits to LFC assisted by the City Council can be clearly seen to have been magnanimous obviously with associated benefits also in terms of uplift in the area for local people. However it seems that the final piece of this complexed planning and regeneration jigsaw after all these some 20 years of at times very negative experiences for the local communities could have resulted in a celebration for all.

Yet here we are again with a super-rich premier league club assisted by the authority in achieving ALL of its expansion objectives with super rich premier league players making more money in a week than most of this street would ever achieve in a lifetime and where a Million pounds spent on a nearby street directly affected by the clubs operations could provide a lasting enduring positive legacy for those finally and yet again most directly affected by the planning and regeneration system.

Finally of note LFC have recently applied to:- Play a wider range of team sports on the pitch. If successful, it will allow the Club to screen a wider range of football games too.Host up to ten concerts or other events a year, including non-team sporting events.

CONCLUSION

The mediation of space and the making of place could not be more relevant in this ongoing planning and regeneration story in such areas like Liverpool where Rich Premier League clubs have such a significant impact on communities.

This I feel is very important since where Premier League clubs dominate the economy of a local community there are and continue to be significant costs and benefits. All of these costs and benefits are really important considerations to policy makers into the future as agglomerations of capital investments from multi national actors in a hugely competitive environment will have even greater impacts for local communities into the future and especially in a post Covid world.

This article is a the subject of a book to be produced by Bill McGarry who has had direct involvement with Community groups as a planner for many years and is able to offer a balanced evaluation of the planning and regeneration experience in this stimulating and interesting planning and regeneration story.

See Amazon: The Peoples (Town) Planner: Bill McGarry

Any book sales after printing costs are donated to the Liverpool Food Bank

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