The cheerleaders for the Liverpool Waters folly are still sticking their fingers in their ears, despite the reality of the scheme's unpopularity with a growing number of people on Merseyside.
A hitherto imposed "concensus" has started to crack since the Oldham Echo was moved to acknowledge the other side of the argument over the future of the city's north docks (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2012/01/24/unesco-calls-for-change-to-liverpool-waters-scheme-to-protect-city-s-world-heritage-site-status-100252-30187372/ ).
David Bartlett's piece was keen to stress that "the report does not say what will happen to the city's WHS status if no changes are made to the [Liverpool Waters] project."
Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson popped up to say that he wanted both the Liverpool Waters scheme & a continuation of the waterfront's World Heritage Status. Given Cllr Anderson's belief that he can lead a Labour council whilst inflicting Tory cuts on the people who elected him into office, such contradictory thinking shouldn't raise too many eyebrows.
What was refreshingly different, however, about Bartlett's article was the nature of the online comments. True, there were the usual suspects (Peel trolls?) who called for WHS status to be dumped (Mogger1: "World Heritage Site, time to move on, I think, we have bigger fish to fry." & SteMcK83: "Get it built and let's become a 'Champions League City' for others to admire." To which one can only respond that the scheme would relegate the city to League One status.)
That said, other commenters refused to toe the Echo/Peel line (L_12: "There is no demand for these buildings/office space. A fancy view of the city of Liverpool will not be a consideration in whether companies seek to invest here.....When the business plan fails it will become derelict, run down and a terrible eyesore. If this project is not a success, it will not only blight the city but become a massive expense to the taxpayer for generations to come." & olderndwise: "If an apartment in the new developments is let then an apartment elsewhere in the city will become vacant. If one of the new offices is let then an office elsewhere in the city will become vacant. If someone is frequenting one of the new bars then they will not be frequenting an existing one.")
That latter point is unarguable in its logic.
Bartlett followed up his article with one the following day (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2012/01/25/unesco-inspectors-attack-liverpool-waters-scheme-100252-30193588/ )which contained this damning observation:
"THE Three Graces would play 'second violin' to the huge £5.5bn Liverpool Waters development if it is approved, Unesco inspectors have warned.
"The inspectors also warned Liverpool's World Heritage Site would be 'damaged beyond repair' if the plan goes ahead."
There can be little doubt that a World Heritage Site which is "damaged beyond repair" ceases to be one. Indeed that was, to all intents & purposes, confirmed by a Unsco inspector late last year (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2011/11/22/unesco-set-to-strip-liverpool-of-its-world-heritage-site-status-100252-29817930/ ).
The latest development in this saga comes with English Heritage's qualms over the scheme (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/feb/23/english-heritage-objection-liverpool-development ).
Helen Carter's report reminds us of Peel's gradiose vanity project: "It features thousands of flats and hundreds of offices, hotels and bars, as well as the 55-storey Shanghai Tower and other skyscrapers."
Just how Peel intends to find individuals & businesses willing to live & work in the aforementioned flats & offices has never been explained. In truth, it's an illusory business plan. The banks aren't lending to mortgage applicants (assuming they can afford a deposit) & small businesses are equally unhappy with the banks' parsimony. The current economic climate will prevail for at least another four or five years. Both Peel & the Oldham Echo know that, though they refuse to admit it.