Memorandum by Liverpool City Council (TAB
The following presents Liverpool City Council's
response to the questions being considered by the Urban Affairs
Sub-Committee on Tall Buildings as reflected in current planning
practice in assessing new tall buildings proposals.
Planning practice in Liverpool recognises fundamentally
that the use of tall buildings is seldom obligatory, and that
in most cases there is a choice between vertical or horizontal
arrangements of accommodation on any site in the city. The optimum
density for a given site is not necessarily achieved by the erection
of tall buildings, and high densities can be achieved without
them. The practice is therefore directed at the correct use of
tall blocks as a positive contribution to the visual planning
of the city.
Although such demand is regrettably uncommon
it is understood and accepted that height nearly always connected
with prestige. The Authority will do its best to accommodate such
demands through careful siting of tall buildings without compromising
visual, environmental or planning principles.
Liverpool boasts a world renowned waterfront
skyline and like many other British cities has inherited a rich
legacy of examples of thoughtful use of tall buildings in the
creation of landmarks, vista closures and punctuation and animation
of the city's skyline. The innovative use of new building technologies
is accepted and welcomed however as a natural evolution process
providing the potential to embrace attractive contemporary architectural
forms and modern landmarks. The City Council is committed to presenting
a progressive forward looking image for the City, embracing the
new while being proud and protective of its heritage.
Because of their compact form, tall buildings
could offer ecological cost benefits through the adoption of more
efficient energy saving systems and methods of construction which
should be explored to further the drive toward a sustainable built
environment. A recent tall building proposal claims as much as
two-thirds energy saving on a comparable tower built to "standard
In addressing the nature and significance of
tall buildings, the assessment of the appropriateness or otherwise
of any location should take account of the following:
Tall buildings lend emphasis to the
importance of their sites, which may assume the appearance of
key positions in the city.
Height also lends prominence to a
building, frequently in excess of its individual importance in
relation to its neighbours. Tall buildings therefore tend to force
themselves into public view, whether they merit this or not.
Tall buildings in Central Areas will
emphasise their commercial and civic status. In local centres
they can lend significance to the heart of the neighbourhood or
district, and they may be used with advantage to this end.
Tall buildings should not be placed
where they detract from or impose on views of important landmark
Tall buildings must not be allowed
to destroy the scale and character of buildings and precincts
of valuable architectural quality or historic interest.
Tall Buildings must not be sited
in such a way as to destroy the visual coherence of the city,
by developing at random without due regard to the city structure.
Indiscriminate use of tall buildings
around major parks could destroy the scale and character of the
Tall building should perform as good
neighbour avoiding excessive overshadowing of adjoining development
or prejudicing the redevelopment of adjoining sites.
The prominence of a tall building
project give the building a special place in the public eye, and
therefore should follow certain obligations on the developer who
assumes such a privilege. Such a project should receive closer
scrutiny of design quality and be considered against the following
important siting and design criteria:
The building should compensate
for its bulk by freeing sufficient adjoining space for use as
an open space at pedestrian level, and preferably some real amenity,
both for the general public and for its own users.
The building itself should be
of the best possible standard of design, and only first class
materials should be used. The detailing should be of a high standard
throughout, to ensure longevity against extreme exposure.
Car parking provided with tall
buildings may take up much of the site area. Cars should be parked,
wherever possible, in basement garages or beneath pedestrian decks
out of sight, so that the free portion of sites can be used as
Evidence of some of the 1960s mistakes is still
with us serving as reminder of the pitfalls and reducing the likelihood
of similar mistakes taking place.
The planning system is robust enough requiring
sufficient publicity of proposals and formal consultation prior
to decisions being made. Greater emphasis should however be given
to public participation in the development of detailed masterplans
giving more time and wider scope for the participant's involvement.
Recent general guidance on tall buildings in
government publication and by CABE/EH provides adequate advice
to local authorities allowing space for local interpretation.
It is difficult to foresee a workable document that responds to
the diversity in demand and local characteristics between the
capital and other metropolitan areas.