The Queen (on the application of Save Britain's Heritage) v Liverpool City Council Regeneration Liverpool and Neptune in Partnership (Interested Party)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
JudgeMrs Justice Patterson
Judgment Date15 January 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] EWHC 48 (Admin)
Docket NumberCase No: CO/4944/2015
Date15 January 2016

[2016] EWHC 48 (Admin)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

ADMINISTRATIVE COURT AT MANCHESTER

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Before:

The Hon. Mrs Justice Patterson DBE

Case No: CO/4944/2015

Between:
The Queen (on the application of Save Britain's Heritage)
Claimant
and
Liverpool City Council
Defendant

and

Regeneration Liverpool and Neptune In Partnership
Interested Party

Richard Harwood QC (instructed by Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law) for the Claimant

Vincent Fraser QC (instructed by Liverpool City Council and Brabners LLP) for the Defendant and Interested Party

Hearing date: 18 December 2015

Mrs Justice Patterson

Introduction

1

This is an application for judicial review of a planning permission granted on 1 September 2015 by Liverpool City Council, the defendant, for a site described as 45 and 51 to 79 Lime Street and properties to rear in Bolton Street, Liverpool. The permission is in the following terms:

"To redevelop site following the refurbishment of 45 Lime Street and demolition of 51 to 77 Lime Street and partial demolition of 79 Lime Street to erect mixed-used development comprising ground floor commercial, retail and leisure uses (use classes A1 to A5) with hotel above and student accommodation with associated landscaping servicing and access."

2

There is one ground of challenge, namely, that the defendant failed to notify the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and through them the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in breach of the World Heritage Committee Operational Guidance and National Planning Guidance at paragraph 18A-036.

3

The claimant is a national campaign group formed in 1975 to campaign to save historic building. It submitted an objection to the proposal on 22 July 2015.

4

The defendant is the local planning authority and, as a result of acquisition of properties within the application site over some years, the owner of a significant part of the application site.

5

The interested party is a specialist regeneration developer established for more than 25 years and based in the city of Liverpool.

6

The application site represents the whole of a block of properties bounded by Lime Street/Skelhorne Street/Copperas Hill and Bolton Street with the exception of the Grade II listed Crown Hotel Public House on the corner of Skelhorne Street and Lime Street; 47 to 49 Lime Street; 79 Lime Street; the Grade II* listed The Vines Public House on the corner of Lime Street/Copperas Hill; and 9 to 11 Copperas Hill.

7

To the north of the application site lies the Grade II listed Lime Street Station and adjacent north-western halls and the Grade I listed St George's Hall. The area around Lime Street Station, including some of the western end of Skelhorne Street has undergone significant public realm improvement works in the form of high quality repaving.

8

The site lies within the buffer zone of the Liverpool World Heritage Site (WHS) and is designated as a mixed-use area within the Unitary Development Plan. The boundary of the William Brown Street conservation area lies to the north of the site adjoining the public realm to the front of Lime Street Station.

The Facts

9

The planning application was submitted on 15 March 2015 by Regeneration Liverpool and Neptune in partnership. The documents which supported the application included a heritage assessment, planning statement and design and access statement. As originally submitted the scheme provided for a mixed-use development of commercial/student and hotel accommodation, including three buildings of between five and nine storeys. As part of the consultation process, while the principle of redeveloping the area was generally supported, concerns were raised by officers and other interested parties regarding the design of the development.

10

On 2 April 2015 Historic England responded in the following terms:

"The application is for demolition of 51–77 Lime Street, partial demolition of 79 Lime Street and refurbishment of 45 Lime Street. The proposal is also for redevelopment for mixed use including commercial, retail and leisure uses with hotel and student accommodation. Historic England's remit is the impact on the setting of the Grade II* listed The Vines Public House only. The buildings proposed for demolition are not listed and not within a designated Conservation Area and therefore falls outside our remit of engagement.

The proposed scale, mass and height fronting Lime Street is of a similar footprint and height as the existing with a raise in height towards Bolton Street. We find this works well in the Lime Street area and the setting of the listed building. The principle of a contemporary architectural language is also accepted and we appreciate the effort to try to create a new and interesting addition to the area around Lime Street Station. However, we are not convinced of the grain and rhythm of the proposal, especially towards Lime Street where the impression is horizontal and monolithic.

We would recommend exploring ways of breaking the development up to respond better to its context and would be happy to discuss this further with the local authority and the applicant in order to find a solution."

11

As a result, a revised scheme was submitted on 23 June 2015. That provided for mixed-use development including 3,022 square metres of commercial accommodation covering the full area of the ground floor. Above the commercial uses, facing Lime Street, there was proposed a further three storeys providing a 101 bedroom hotel with associated restaurant, bar and meeting rooms. Fronting Bolton Street there was proposed an eleven storey, 412 bedroom student residential block. In between the two blocks the design created a podium level spill out space for student residents and hotel/restaurant guests. Addenda to the previously submitted documents were included as part of the revised scheme.

12

A further full round of consultation was carried out by the defendant which began on 25 June 2015. To that the Victorian Society responded with an objection on the basis that the application would cause serious and unjustified harm to Liverpool's unique historic environment. Having set out the importance of the buffer zone to the WHS the Society continued:

"The almost total clearance of the site and the loss of historic fabric it would entail would have a drastic and deleterious impact on Liverpool's historic environment. It would result in the loss of buildings that are identified as significant positive components (and one that is locally listed). It would be detrimental to the character and appearance of the World Heritage Site Buffer Zone and have a direct and harmful impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site. It would harm the setting of the adjacent Conservation Area and would erode the setting of numerous listed buildings, most notably the Grade I-listed St George's Hall, the Grade II*-listed Vines public house, the Grade II-listed Crown Hotel and the Grade II-listed Lime Street Station. For these reasons we object in principle to the demolition of much of the east side of Lime Street."

13

The claimant objected, in a letter dated 22 July 2015, on two principal grounds — the harm caused to the heritage assets and the historic environment as a result of the demolition of existing buildings; and the harm caused to surrounding heritage assets and the wider historic environment of Liverpool as a result of the designs of the proposed new buildings. Within the letter of objection the claimant said:

"A further consideration must be Liverpool's World Heritage Site (WHS), with the application site being located in the WHS buffer zone and within viewing distance of the William Brown Street WHS area which includes St George's Hall and Lime Street Station."

The claimant urged refusal of the application.

14

On 23 July 2015 Historic England responded by email to the revised consultation as follows:

"I have now considered the amendments to the previous scheme submitted in March this year. Historic England's remit in this case is the setting of the Grade II* listed 'The Vines' adjacent to the site. The scheme is an improvement to the previous application in terms of both materiality and in respecting the rhythm and grain of this part of Lime Street and we do not consider the scheme as being harmful to the significance of the Grade II* listed building."

15

An officer report was prepared and circulated together with an update of 10 August 2015.

16

The matter was considered by the committee on 11 August 2015. The members voted six in favour of a grant of planning permission, one against, and one abstention.

17

On 14 August 2015 the claimant wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG) asking that he call in the planning application and that he issue a direction restricting Liverpool City Council from granting planning permission until he had considered the claimant's request. The claimant's letter referred to the impact running against WHS policy and placing Liverpool's already officially "endangered" WHS at further risk. The WHS had been placed on the at risk register by UNESCO in 2012. Apart from the medieval remains in Kosovo, Liverpool's WHS was the only other European site to be placed upon the at risk register.

18

The claimant's letter continued with a section about the importance of the WHS and the conflict which it considered existed between the application proposals and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). As a gateway to Liverpool as part of the WHS buffer zone it was essential that the scheme was fully...

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