Baltic Triangle DevelopmentThis evening's meeting in Liverpool of the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee comes at a something of a watershed for the city and underscores some of the key development issues faced by Liverpool. Liverpool City Council has given evidence to the Commons Committee on "The Role of Historic Buildings in Urban Regeneration" based on its expertise in this area. Change on a grand scale in what is a relatively small city is bound to lead to a polarisation of views, particularly about architectural developments set to define the Liverpool skyline – and by association "Liverpoolness" – for generations to come. The Mann Island plans, including those for the new Liverpool Museum, have already proven controversial, although the funding rejection by the Heritage Lottery Fund leaves this development under something of a cloud. Now, Councillor Steve Mumby, Labour spokesman for regeneration, has publically criticised the plans for the Baltic Triangle development opposite the Wapping Warehouse site. "Disastrous for the city" with "characterless blocks" and an "impermeable obstacle", he described the proposed scheme of mostly two and three-bed apartments. The Liverpool Museum plans and associated developments in the Mann Island area prompted similar views. There is a delicate balance here and people will fall on one side of the debate or the other. While protecting its heritage and the wealth of architectural treasures the city has to offer, including the World Heritage site, Liverpool also has to embrace the future with openness and to attract new residents to the city centre. There will be room for a whole range of architectural designs throughout the development area depending on site, function and context. Liverpool developers cannot build faux Victorian or Georgian buildings throughout, as some would have, although one can see room for designs reminiscent of the Sainsbury's Wing of London's National Gallery, for example. Nor can developers ride roughshod over the city's skyscape with buildings that have no sense of context. In addition to a mix of retail, residential and cultural developments in a mix of styles and approaches, vital transport and service infrastructure needs to accompany the new buildings so that the human interaction with the urban environment is given paramount importance. It is this which makes a city thrive. 


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