UNDERSTANDING LIVERPOOL'S DOCKLAND LANDSCAPE
A review of our November talk - by Rosemary Doman
In his talk on 15th November, which was illustrated by maps, diagrams and photographs, Peter de Figueiredo traced the development of the dockland landscape to its present form and showed how a vibrant waterfront retaining its highly distinctive character can be created from this landscape. From Thomas Steers' first wet dock (1710) onwards, Liverpool proved a national leader in the dock trade. Its huge expansion led to the seven mile development along the original shoreline, and Jesse Hartley's magnificent brick, granite and iron buildings of heroic scale.
Following the decline in dock use because of the collapse of trade, the Albert Dock Heritage Site was established in the 1980s by the Merseyside Development Corporation set up by Michael Heseltine, its creation directly driven by Liverpool's 1970s slump. New building (e.g. the Echo Arena) has changed and will continue to change the skyline, but understanding its history and following conservation principles can preserve its essential character. Buildings in keeping with traditional horizontal dock architecture, and a limit on New York/Hong Kong style skyscrapers through tight control by the City Council, the Government and UNESCO, should protect the iconic views of our World Heritage waterfront.
Beyond the Three Graces, sixty hectares of central and northern dockland, inaccessible to the public because of the dock wall, offer unparalleled opportunities for high quality development of mixed use. Peel Holdings, the owners, have submitted an ambitious outline application for the whole site with a budget of £5.5 billion, expected to produce 17,000 jobs and 9,000 homes plus shops and restaurants. Features will include a canal link walkway, a cruise liner terminal and the re-creation of the Princes Dock landing stage, from where emigrants sailed, as an historic site, all to be phased in over the next forty to fifty years. This was altogether a most illuminating and inspiring talk by an outstandingly committed and qualified heritage consultant.