Architect with grand designs on home town Liverpool

Dec 31 2007 by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post

Cranes look down over the new Grosvenor Henderson Paradise Project with Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral in the background

January sales will never be the same again once the huge retail development, Liverpool One, opens in May. Liverpudlian architect Terry Davenport, who masterplanned the scheme, told David Bartlett why its opening will be so close to his heart

IN MAY, 1m sq ft of new shopping space will open in Liverpool, including two department stores, John Lewis and Debenhams.

In September, a further 600,000 sq ft of shops, restaurants, cafés, bars and more than 600 apartments, offices and a nursery will be complete.

Hilton and Novotel hotels will follow in early 2009.

As a result, spending in Liverpool is expected to increase from around £1bn a year to £1.4bn over the next decade.

Developer Grosvenor will have spent more than £1bn on one of the largest projects of its type in Europe, and the face of 42 acres of Liverpool city centre will have been completely changed forever.

And, when it is complete, it will be one of the crowning glories of Liverpool-born architect Terry Davenport.

“For any architect to have the opportunity to engage with a project that will transform a huge portion of his city centre, which had been neglected, is quite literally an opportunity of a lifetime,” said the architect director at BDP Liverpool.

“It is such a privilege to have been able to work on such a project.”

He has been involved in the project since its inception in 1999, when Liverpool City Council held an international developer competition to find a partner for the then Paradise Project, which has now been christened Liverpool One.

Grosvenor approached architects firm BDP to help create the masterplan for the area.

BDP had just created a masterplan for Rope Walks, an area immediately adjacent to the Paradise Street Project, and which is still undergoing a massive regeneration of its own.

“BDP is a national firm, but with an international reputation, particularly in regeneration.

“It was because of that reputation that Grosvenor came to BDP. One of our strengths is the local, national, and international depth to our work.”

In early 2000, Grosvenor was appointed as the developer to take forward its plans for the Paradise Street project.

Along with Rod Holmes, Grosvenor’s project director, Mr Davenport spent a “very intensive” nine to 10 months refining the masterplan, before the planning submission was made to the council.

“Quite often, you describe a site as unique and very special, but the Paradise Street project is very special.

“It is 17 hectares in a city centre, not removed from the city centre, but right in the heart of the city.

“It links not just to the retail core, but also significantly links to ongoing regeneration in Rope Walks and Kings Dock.

“It also links to the waterfront and the business district.

“This was a unique opportunity to do something really, really special that would quite literally turn the city’s fortunes.

“The masterplan involved respecting the character of the existing quarters.”

In 2003, the scheme was given the formal green light, and then BDP was given the task of drawing up a detailed brief for the 36 buildings in the project, which in turn 20 architects’ firms have designed.

‘WE HAD to make sure that everything ultimately fitted together in this quite complex jigsaw puzzle.

“This was a very exciting time for me. In January, 2004, we started work on designing the infrastructure, the park, the car park and the retail elements of South John Street.

“One of the key landmarks for me happened to coincide with my birthday on November 22, 2004,” said the 55-year-old.

“It was the formal celebration of the start of work on site.

“That was a very special day for me.”

Since then, BDP and Mr Davenport have been involved in monitoring the work on site, from their offices in St Peter’s Square less than five minutes’ walk away from the site.