By Daily Post Correspondent
A ROW of historic cottages under threat from a £60m city centre project have been saved from demolition. Developers Beetham wanted to knock down three 200-year-old cottages to make way for Liverpool's first five star hotel, an office block and an apartment development on Old Hall Street. But after a storm of protest they have redesigned the scheme for the former St Paul's eye hospital site and saved two of the three terraced cottages from demolition.
New plans for the development, which will give the city a 200-bed luxury hotel operated by Radisson, and Liverpool's first £1m penthouse on top of a 28-storey apartment tower, are to go before the council today. If council planners give it the go-ahead, construction is scheduled for completion by the end of 2003. Officers are recommending that the scheme is given the go-ahead, subject to a series of stringent environmental conditions.
The grade II-listed cottages were built as offices at the entrance to Clarke's Basin, the western terminal of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. One of the features was an unusually shaped southern end which allowed the movement of horse-drawn wagons. The basin closed in 1886 when the Liverpool Exchange railway station was enlarged. The wharves were severed from the canal and new terminal facilities were built further north. For most of the 20th century, the building formed part of St Paul's Eye Hospital but the hospital was demolished in the 1990s and the cottages have lain empty ever since.
Beetham managing director Stephen Beetham said: "We have persuaded Radisson to incorporate the cottages into a pub restaurant associated with the hotel. There are no real cost implications for the plan and they fit in quite well." The change has been welcomed by protesters, though Merseyside Civic Society says that the building to be demolished, the northernmost and tallest of the cottages, is "arguably the most interesting" of the three.
The apartment block will include 110 flats, with an average price tag of £200,000. There will also be a nine-storey office block creating 140,000sq ft of commercial floorspace. Other objections to the overall project have come from Merseyside Police, who say there is not enough parking in the scheme, and the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, who say it will take light off its neighbouring head office and increase congestion and parking problems in the area. The most damning criticism comes from Liverpool Urban Design and Conservation Advisory Panel who say the designs are "dull, short of inspiration and originality, and resemble some of the discredited examples of the 1960s."