Salisbury Dock and the Victoria Tower

The recent announcement by English Heritage to fight Peel Holdings’ ?5.5bn Liverpool Waters scheme ? unless Peel agrees to make further changes to its plans, may come as a surprise to many who have watched in horror as the Mann Island development has destroyed the harmony of Pier Head. The Regional Director of English Heritage, Henry Owen-John, said Peel has a ?significant? way to go to persuade English Heritage that it should back Peel’s plan regenerate the city?s northern docklands and that it would not damage the city?s World Heritage Site.
If English Heritage lodges an objection and the city grants planning permission, the scheme would automatically be referred to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles ? dramatically increasing the chances of a lengthy and costly public inquiry. Mr Owen-John also revealed that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has notified Unesco, which oversees World Heritage Sites, about the Liverpool Waters project.
So here we have a government agency that has singularly failed to protect Liverpool’s historic waterfront now complaining about a development of a derelict brownfield site that has the potential to change Liverpool’s international status and secure huge amounts of investment. Ironically, one of the concerns is about the Victoria Tower, which under Peel’s plans would become a major feature. English Heritage has raised the objection that key views to and from the Victoria Clock Tower, reflecting its symbolic and actual importance in historic dock management, will be lost. So do we sit back and look at it from afar in its present abandoned and inaccessible state?
Liverpool desperately needs a vision of the future and there is no public money going to be thrown at it. What Peel have recognised is that the economic power of the future lies with China and that Liverpool can hold the key to a huge amount of inward investment. Their plans for a major trade centre (either in Ellesmere Port or Birkenhead) are well-advanced and Chinese investment is already in the pipeline. Liverpool Waters is another piece in a jigsaw which will transform a previously derelict area with no future into a dynamic extension of the waterfront with a feature Shanghai Tower skyscraper. The economic prosperity of Liverpool has always depended on adapting quickly to change. World Heritage status is important, as is the protection of architecturally important sites such as Stanley Dock, but are these really threatened by a scheme which will create thousands of jobs and create a new, dynamic image of Liverpool?
Mr Owen-John said: ?We fully support the principle of developing the area. Clearly it is a brownfield site at the moment which is inaccessible and there is real opportunity that could have enormous benefit for Liverpool widely and north Liverpool particularly.” So why throw a spanner in the works having allowed far more sensitive sites to be developed without serious objection.

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