THE GOVERNMENT has today approved the £5.5bn Liverpool Waters scheme to regenerate the city’s northern docklands.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he would not “call-in” Peel Holdings’ huge skyscraper project for a public inquiry.
His department wrote to Liverpool council to say that the decision over final approval was best taken by the local authority.
Due to its size and concerns over its possible impact on the city’s World Heritage Site, the huge planning application was sent to Mr Pickles.
“The secretary of state’s general approach is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of the local planning authority unless it is necessary to do so,” said the letter from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
“The Liverpool Waters proposal is a substantial outline application phased over a 30 year period, which falls within the Liverpool Maritime and Mercantile World Heritage Site and its Buffer Zone.
“The secretary of state has concluded that the nature of the matters raised in this outline application in relation to the call-in indicators, do no persuade him to use his discretionary powers to call-in this application.”
The letter went on to say Mr Pickles was “content” to leave the decision to Liverpool council.
The scheme was first given permission by the council a year ago, and then in September it signed off a series of conditions setting out how the 30-year development to should be managed.
Liverpool council and Peel Holdings had wrangled over the conditions since permission was granted last March. But English Heritage, which has long objected to the plans, believed the conditions are “muddled, badly drafted and insufficiently precise”.
The planning application promises to create 20,000 jobs and features 9,000 apartments, hundreds of offices, hotels, bars and a cruise terminal. The project also envisages two clusters of tall buildings, including a 55-storey tower.
It is currently only an outline application, and detailed plans will have to be submitted for each building.
Peel Holdings is yet to give a firm date for when work might start on the project.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, said: “This is fantastic news for Liverpool. I’m absolutely delighted that the Secretary of State shares the confidence we have in our ability to deliver this vitally important regeneration scheme, while protecting our architectural heritage.
“Today’s announcement marks the start of a new era for Liverpool, paving to way to us delivering a world class development which will transform a part of the city that has been in desperate need of investment for decades.
“Liverpool Waters will create thousands of jobs and opportunities for local people, as well as providing new housing and attracting new businesses and visitors.
“It’s a huge boost for our city and yet more evidence that despite the recession, regeneration is forging ahead here. We can now look forward to the plans moving forward on this once-in-a-lifetime scheme which will bring huge, lasting benefits to future generations in this city.
“It’s vital that Peel delivers these plans in a way which meets the conditions set out by the planning committee and we’ll be working closely with them to make sure this is achieved.”