Campaigners lose battle to save historic city centre building
Apr 9 2008 by Ben Schofield, Liverpool Daily Post
Artist's impression of plans for a new office/leisure development at Josephine Butler House, situated at the junction of Hope Street and Myrtle Street in Liverpool _320
A HISTORIC Myrtle Street building will be flattened after a £60m development was finally rubber stamped for the site yesterday.
Josephine Butler House – a former laying-in hospital dating back to 1867 – will be replaced with a six-storey block of offices, shops and restaurants.
The proposed building was yesterday labelled by heritage campaigners as more befitting for Milton Keynes than Liverpool’s Georgian quarter.
Campaigners had hoped the scheme would be blocked after planners said they were minded to refuse permission because of worries over increased traffic.
But designers from Maghull Developments convinced councillors at yesterday’s planning committee meeting that the scheme should go ahead.
The Hope Street-based company caused controversy when it started work on the facade of Josephine Butler House in early March – which it claimed was “specialist restoration work” – before a decision was made on whether to list the building.
Building work should start by the end of the year and will see 20,000ft of retail space on the ground floor and 100,000ft of office space above.
The sixth floor will house a sky bar with unrivalled views along Hope Street and over the city.
The building will stand on a 263-space three-storey car park.
Wayne Colquhoun, from the Liverpool Preservation Trust, called for a complete archeological survey of the site because he believes Josephine Butler House sits where a Baptist Chapel once stood. He told the committee a map dating from 1848 showed four churches around the Philharmonic Hall.
He added: “This building has no place in this historic location. You don’t come across a more historic place in Liverpool.
“There’s no detail and as such it has no place in this situation. In Milton Keynes maybe, but not here.”
Mr Colquhoun suggested the decision should go to a planning inquiry and hit out at English Heritage’s refusal to grant the building spot listing.
“English Heritage is not reflective of historic opinion, you just can’t trust them. Asking EH’s Manchester office to look after our architecture is like asking my mouse to look after my cat,” he said.
Yesterday’s meeting also gave the go-ahead to the conversion of the Grade-II- listed No.2 Blackburne Place into 13 luxury apartments.
Maghull chairman Ian Jones said: “Doing a second-rate job would undermine our reputation. If people say we are in for a quick buck they are wrong.
“There’s £100m of investment in the same street. Who would be mad enough to do so much investment and then do a second-rate job?
“Hope Street has been constantly reinvented, from Georgians, through the Victorians and Gothic revivalists. We need to continue that tradition of bold design and make it fit for 21st century use.”
Maghull’s planning consultant Richard Gee said there were “10 good reasons” not to refuse the planning permission on traffic grounds.
He said there had only been five slight accidents in the area in the last three years and that there was “30 to 40% spare junction capacity” on the roads nearby.