The Homes and Communities Agency regeneration agency (the regulator for social housing providers in England) has revealed its bold new vision and development framework for the new Kings Dock in Liverpool. And we like what we see.
With its stacked, jagged edged blocks of residential, leisure and hotel developments resting on jaunty, Will Alsop-like stilts, the development looks a touch like Manchester’s new Law Courts, but altogether more brutal. Its bold, ambitious and inclusive. We approve.
Working with Liverpool City Council and the Arena Convention Centre Liverpool (ACCL), the HCA has devised the plan to guide development at Kings Dock to enhance what’s already been a massive success at the BT Convention Centre and Echo Arena. The area is to soon start making way for the new Exhibition Hall, and the waterfront is a key area for the city’s ambitious new SIF Strategic Framework.
The masterplan shows how the Kings Dock will soon become a destination in its own right, apart from the Albert Dock, with attractive public squares and open spaces allowing access to the water space. There’ll be a covered, aerial walkway (remember them?) connecting the ACC with the Exhibition Hall, meaning that the space won’t suffer from the vagaries of the riverside weather (we nearly got blown all the way to Douglas yesterday, but that’s another story).
The development and design principles are set out in more detail here including the layout of the development; its relationship with surrounding sites, its approach to the area’s heritage, the creation of distinct neighbourhoods, green spaces, and so on.
The new masterplan builds on the successful first stage of development of the northern half of the Kings Waterfront, but will see the £40 million new Exhibition Hall surrounded by restaurants, a new hotel, and mixed use leisure and residential buildings.
There is no doubt that the stunning Wilkinson Eyre ACC development has been warmly received by us and by our hundreds of thousands of visiting delegates, gig goers and tourists. ACC Chief Executive Bob Prattey (originally from Birmingham’s NEC complex) told SevenStreets: “We were fed up travelling to Manchester to see our favourite bands. We’re Liverpool. A musical city. We were determined to make our Arena a better, and more enjoyable experience than Manchester’s.”
They succeeded. And now, with the Kings Dock plan, the city will be able to link directly up to the new, vibrant Baltic Triangle quarter, with a new super pedestrian and cycle route to Blundell Street. At last!
“The masterplan has been designed to help continue the transformation of Liverpool into one of the UK’s most business and enterprise-friendly cities,” says Deborah McLaughlin, HCA Executive Director for the North West.
“It will position the city as an international conference and events destination. As landowner, the HCA is committed to ensuring that the Kings Dock contributes hugely to the prosperity of Liverpool.”
We’re officially excited. Kings Dock is right in the heart of our waterfront – and in the city. Its plans seem grounded in sustainability, and the area’s form goes before it. The Council, and Liverpool’s Vision’s clear strategy to make our waterfront truly great again is clear headed and applaudable. Heck, if the Kings Dock could attract Tony Bennett to a windy big top surrounded by puddles, just imagine what it could be like when the place is watertight.
Work is slated to start on the Exhibition Centre this autumn.
But what do you think?
You’re invited to air your views on the heart of these proposals: the exhibition centre and surrounding hotel and business suites. The Council’s Pre-planning application consultation gives people chance to view draft plans and have their say before the exhibition centre and hotel scheme is submitted in February. The consultation is on 8 and 9 February, and will give people the opportunity to drop in, see an outline of the plans and submit questions.
The drop-in sessions will be staffed by officers from the city council, ACC Liverpool, construction company ISG, architects Denton Corker Marshall and planning advisors IBI Taylor Young. The public consultation events for Exhibition Centre Liverpool take place on Friday 8 February from 3pm until 7pm
and Saturday 9 February from 10am until 2pm in hall 3A at ACC Liverpool.