New agreement to safeguard design in Liverpool
31 July 2006
Following weeks of negotiation, CABE believes that Liverpool’s controversial pathfinder area now has the potential to deliver good design and has withdrawn its objections.
Following weeks of negotiation, CABE believes that Liverpool's controversial pathfinder area now has the potential to deliver good design. As a result CABE has withdrawn its objection to the proposed compulsory purchase orders (CPOs).
This follows Liverpool City Council's recent granting of outline planning permission to three pathfinder schemes, contrary to CABE's advice. CABE did not believe the applications contained enough information to demonstrate that the areas to be demolished would be improved by the new developments. There were no binding masterplans, development frameworks or design codes. In an unusual step, CABE then objected to the CPOs made in support of those planning applications. CABE has now ensured that systems are in place for the developers to produce good design through a mechanism enforced via the section 106 agreement between the local authority and the developers. Liverpool City Council has signed an undertaking to CABE stating that it will not issue planning permission until the following terms are met by the applicant:
- a working group to directly advise the planning committee will be established comprising CABE, English Heritage, the council, the developer and representatives from the community.
- a detailed masterplan will be produced and submitted to the working group.
- a design code will be prepared and submitted to the working group.
The agreement also states that no reserved matters (issues not addressed within an outline planning application but which will be approved at a later date) will be submitted for planning approval until the detailed masterplan and the designs have been approved by the working group. These must also be accompanied by a design report.
Selina Mason, director of design review at CABE said:
'Objecting to a compulsory purchase order is an unusual but significant action for CABE to take. It is the first time CABE has objected to a CPO but after careful consideration we have been able to withdraw our objections, given that our concerns about design will be addressed. This is by no means an ideal process: it would have been better if the council had insisted on a masterplan in the first place. What we have now achieved, through the details secured within the section 106 agreement, is a mechanism to ensure that design is considered before planning permission is granted.
CABE advises on how to deliver good design and insists on quality but we are still seeing mediocre housing that should not be considered acceptable for the people that are going to live there. This is across board, irrespective of whether it is a housing market renewal scheme or not. A lot still remains to be done in Liverpool and CABE will be closely monitoring the process. This is a partnership between the designers, developers and planning authority and to make it work all involved must be committed to design.'