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By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

Have you heard the one about the American and the Liverpool planner?

An American property entrepreneur rocks up in Liverpool to attend the International Business Festival.

She has never been to the city before and she is blown away with the beauty, energy, and friendliness of the place; so much so, that she decides to explore the potential of investing some of the £900m investment she has access to into a major Liverpool development.

She contacts officials at Liverpool City Council, and she is offered an appointment with one of the organisation’s planners. The conversation goes something like this.

“I love your city, and I’d love to invest here. We specialise in high quality, mixed-used schemes. Iconic towers.” She shows the officer a portfolio of impressive work that her company has delivered all over the world.

“TOWERS?” the officer says, in a somewhat challenging tone. “You do know about World Heritage Status, don’t you?”

“Oh yeah. That’s fine. Why would anyone be mad enough to want to spoil that glorious waterfront where the Three Graces stand proud. No, no, no. I’d be looking at development sites within the City Centre itself.”, responds the entrepreneur.

“Oh, okay. Like where then?”

“Well, I’m aware of the regeneration that is taking place around your train station, Lime Street. How’s about we look at opportunities there?”

“Difficult” says the official. “We have introduced a Skyline policy in that area. The Towers you want to develop are more than twelve stories high right?”

She nods.

“Well, that’s going to be extremely challenging around Lime Street.

“Right” she replies, somewhat bemused. “Okay then, how about the section around China Town – Duke Street struck me as a location that could really boom over the next few years.”

The officer has more bad news for the American. “That’s part of what we call the ‘buffer zone’ that UNESCO insists upon, as part of our World Heritage Status. It’s an easy mistake to make, thinking the status only applies to the waterfront, but it impacts on a much bigger footprint than people appreciate.”

Not to be thwarted the investor, desperate to get a foothold somewhere in a city she has fallen in love with, has a plan ‘C’.

“I’m staying at a wonderful Hotel, the Titanic. It’s a little further out than I’d like, a little run down, but…”

Before she can finish the planner cuts across her “Sorry, that’s part of Heritage Status too. You couldn’t build a tower there.”

“Jeez, that is mad!”

“Well, them’s the rules” answers the planner, and he asks “Err, are there any other questions you have?”

“Just one” she says. “Do you have the telephone number for Manchester Town Hall please?”

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