There's been a keen & spirited response to Ed Vulliamy's look at his home town in yesterday's Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/22/architecture-heritage-liverpool-hope-street ).
In a curate's egg of an article, Vulliamy takes a trip through the city centre, particularly around the Hope Street area, & doesn't like what he sees. He recalls his family's association with Liverpool Art College (where a J. Lennon, late of this parish, once studied):
"So I went to pay my usual homage. The art college was empty. Through the windows of so much past diligence, exuberance and colour, just a deep, hollow nothing. 'Acquired by the Maghull Group,' said the board on the railing. 'Invest. Develop. Construct.' "
Vulliamy notes that the old art college "has been sold in a package of four buildings by their owner, John Moores University, to the Maghull Group. Maghull's proposal reads: 'The former art college, attended by John Lennon, will be converted into a 48-bed, 5-star boutique hotel. Alternative proposals for the building are for a high-quality residential refurbishment to provide 19 two-and three-bedroom apartments.' Similar plans are also posted for the also listed Hahneman Building."
Vulliamy is to be commended for highlighting the issue, which the local media (surprise, surprise) has largely ignored; where most discerning local observers see civic vandalism & call it so, the Oldham Echo merely wheels out its tired & stale "Jobs Boost" & City on the rise" headlines.
Vulliamy refers to the demolition (or destruction, to give it its proper term) of the nearby Josephine Butler Building, in the name of modernisation. He also quotes the founding director of the Maghull Group, Michael Hanlon, who demonstrates an innate gift for diplomacy, tact & PR when dealing with critics: "Mr Hanlon recalled meeting 'a whole raft of local consultation groups, many of which consist of time-wasting wankers...who seem to think they are experts in heritage...if you don't like our proposals then that's hard lines for you, so why don't you fuck off.' "
What a charming fellow Mr Hanlon seems to be. One of the critics at whom Hanlon directs his Anglo-Saxon advice is local Beatle tour guide Philip Coppell whose knowledge & appreciation of the city cannot be questioned.The same clearly cannot be said for Michael Hanlon.
While on the subject of civic consciousness & the need to preserve & maintain the city's historic buildings, it's worth noting Wayne Colquhoun's blog: http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/ .