Planners say they won't be a blot on 'sensitive' landscape. Neighbours disagree

The first major development in the central docks area of Peel’s £5bn Liverpool Waters scheme is earmarked for approval by Liverpool City Council’s planning committee on Tuesday.

The project will see two buildings, one rising 14 storeys and the other eight storeys, close to the Grade II listed Waterloo Warehouse, one of the first of the old dock buildings in Liverpool to be converted into apartments.

The plans detail the first development proposed within the so-called Central Docks Neighbourhood and signal the transition of development progressing northwards from the Princes Dock. This will eventually include Bramley Moore Dock, proposed home of the new Everton FC stadium,  and will dramatically change the character of the area, says a report by planners.

The planners describe the site, which is within the buffer zone of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, as "sensitive".

In a 42-page report to the committee they say:  “The site occupies a sensitive location within the WHS Buffer Zone and, given its prominent location, it is essential that development maximises the potential opportunity and crucially does not harm heritage assets of the site and its surroundings. The development will not harm heritage assets or, in particular, the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site. It will provide high quality accommodation with a well designed building that will support the regeneration of this area of the city.”

Waterloo Dock. The new blocks will sit in the background (blue shed area) and 'reflect the warehouse aesthetic'

The two new blocks with Waterloo Quays just visible, behind, to the right. The Wallasey Tunnel ventilation shaft can be glimpsed on the far left. The new road seen here will run down to the new Isle of Man ferry terminal

The development of the 60-hectare Liverpool Waters site has led to Liverpool’s WHS status being put on the “at risk” list by the World Heritage Committee, with a decision likely next year on whether the city should be stripped of the coveted title.

The proposed buildings, says the report, are designed as midrise blocks that reflect the "warehouse aesthetic" of the nearby heritage landmarks such as Waterloo Warehouse and Tobacco Warehouse, and provide backcloth to the taller buildings proposed in the Liverpool Waters masterplan. 

Objectors to the project say they fear the development will harm the setting of Waterloo Warehouse Grade II listed building, one of the largest surviving warehouses in the dock system. 

“Waterloo Warehouse is a landmark building that makes a positive contribution to the waterfront skyline and provides a visual reference point in the World Heritage Site because of its history architecture and location,” say objectors in submissions to the council.

The project has been put forward by developers Romal Capital and landowners Peel, and includes 237 apartments for market sale, with r3estaurant/café and leisure facilities such as a gym on the ground floor.

The site covers what used to be Victoria Dock which, in 1972, was filled in.