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.

9 Responses to “Kings Dock: The View From Here”

  1. Is this announcement supposed to make up for HS2?

    The council’s silence on HS2 has been deafening. We can build all the plazas we want but they’ll all be empty if no one comes here (assuming they get built at all).

  2. Corbhaas, I think that is a little unfair. It’s a strategic framework document not a list of the finalised building designs. There are some really good ideas within this document, this coupled with the British waterways plan for the southern docks and the plans already in motion with the strategic framework and the baltic coming alive makes this area the place to watch over the next few years.

    We may not have got HS2, I was really annoyed at that, but we cannot simply give up. Newcastle and Bristol also lost out on this just as much as we did. There will be opportunities in the future for us to make the business case to the government to expand the line to Liverpool. To do that we’ve got to grow our city and the region. This is a step towards that.

  3. Sorry but Liverpool lost out far more than any of the others owing to its proximity to Manchester, which will now suck the lifeblood out of the place even more if things are allowed to proceed as planned. Already big companies have been abandoning Liverpool for Manchester.

    HS2’s benefits are not travel times, but the impetus it gives as a cue for massive accompanying private investment. There will be no benefit to the city from a later extension beyond shaving an extra 30 minutes off the journey (which no one will then care about). How are we supposed to grow our city with this effective act of economic sabotage?

    I would never suggest we give up though, far from it. I would suggest politicians making protest, complaining about the disparity of treatment, standing up and saying how it is wrong that Liverpool has to fight at least twice as hard for things that others seem to be handed on a plate, to go through their alleged arguments with a bunch of laywers (are there none willing to stand up for their city?!) and a fine tooth comb and threaten legal action after legal action that makes it clear that either we get treated equally and get HS2, or no one gets HS2. It wouldn’t be my first preference, but why should we constantly sit back and be treated as second class citizens? Institutional prejudice against Liverpool is rank and widespread in England, and I’m fed up of it and I cannot understand why our politicians don’t shout about it.

    The “Crewe prize” was presented to Liverpool as if it was a massive favour/victory that we should be grateful for, however regardless of how many plans they claim to have created for a Lichfield line, given the strategic importance of Crewe for the north and onward to Scotland, the notion of it ever not stopping there is frankly ludicrous in my view, and I cannot believe for a second it not stopping could ever have been seriously considered (even more unpalatable when you consider it would have handed the SNP a massive PR victory of the UK keeping infrastructure investment to England with no serious future Scottish planning).

    No, the money that in my view should have been used to channel into the city is instead used to dance around home counties constituencies, give two stations to manchester and bore under their city.

    So will we soon get to see some action from our politicians? Or are they solely content with simply getting paid while their city sinks? I cannot be any more disappointed in them right now.

  4. A LOT needs to be done to secure the quality and purpose of these planned buildings, and protection of the river. Currently embroiled in protracted legal dispute with developers of The Block (well named) and Venmore estate agents over state of disrepair (Environmental Health Order and Independent Surveyor’s report) and anti-social behaviour (stag and hen invasion) whilst tenants there. Advertised as ‘luxurious and prestigious’ = joke!! and we’re not laughing. A repeat of previous experience in Manchester All that glitters…

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