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Uses for Liverpool’s Listed Buildings

Liverpool Landscapes was a blog charting new discoveries, news and developments affecting Liverpool's historic environment. It was regularly updated between 2007 and 2016.

Liverpool Landscape has now been retired, and most of the less time-dependent articles moved to Historic Liverpool.

The Observer reports on a survey by McBains Cooper which suggests that giving Grand Designs-like makeovers to Britain’s vacant listed buildings could help with the shortfall of up 1 million homes.

The suggestion is that the hundreds of listed buildings which are currently out of use could be converted to flats and houses. However, the main objection is the red tape and hassle that owners expect to have to go through to get plans accepted.

Stanley Dock by Paul Holloway, via Flickr

Stanley Dock by Paul Holloway, via Flickr

Having seen, and mapped, the listed buildings most at risk in Liverpool, according to English Heritage, I know that a great many of them lay dormant, without use and without any plans for the future. My favourite is the tobacco warehouse at Stanley Dock. This is a colossal building, and identical to all intents and purposes to the warehouses at the King’s Dock which are now plush and expensive footballers’ homes, and which ensure the preservation of these globally important structures. There seems no reason why the Stanley Dock warehouses couldn’t be put to similar use. New flats are also found all along Waterloo Road, occupying former derelict buildings. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before Stanley Dock is converted. Maybe the owner has been waiting for the best time. But these kinds of projects need to be started sooner rather than later. How many flats could you fit in that warehouse, plus shops, parking and maybe offices on the ground floor? Granted, at the moment these buildings are a tad out of the way of the city centre, but the location must be attractive to many who would save on transport costs to the offices and shops in town.

There also has to be the one project which starts the regeneration of the entire area all the way up Waterloo Road to Nelson and Huskisson Docks. The main thing to remember, however, is that the housing shortfall is not with the wealthy King’s Dock flat owner types. It’s with the thousands of families who can’t afford a house, so it would be no good to create another ‘exclusive’ gated community. Could a Stanley Dock scheme both ensure the preservation of the warehouse structure and provide a more accessible housing scheme than Kings or East Waterloo Docks?

Of course, there are other vacant listed buildings in Liverpool, crying out for regeneration. What buildings in your area could benefit from such a scheme?

  1. That whole area does seem ripe for redevelopment, although I don’t think it’s helped by the isolated approach-way with Bath Street hemmed in with a long dock wall. Couple that with having to cross the dual carriageway to get into the city centre, and it’s not very pedestrian-friendly for what is otherwise such a good location to be able to walk into town.

    I also thought that the problem with the Stanley Dock warehouses in particular was that the ceilings are lower than in the comparable – and now converted – warehouses elsewhere. Or am I wrong there?

    September 21, 2009
    • To be honest I don’t know how tall the rooms are in Stanley Docks compared to Kings. But you’re right about the journey between Stanley Dock and the city centre – it is a bit of a trek! What it perhaps needs is a more widespread development; as you say the whole area is ripe for development. One of the characteristics of many areas of Liverpool are the small pockets of shops around the city – Alder Hey, Tuebrook, Old Swan, Childwall Triangle. If there was such an area somewhere close by of Stanley Dock it would benefit from all the flats already there too, and reduce the need to go into town except once in a while, and then – buses!
      Quite a chicken and egg kind of problem, but full of potential!
      Thanks for your comments, and note I’ll be removing the need for me to moderate comments, so they should appear more quickly!

      September 23, 2009
  2. Carl Fitzgerald #

    The Stanley dock area has to be saved,the buildings there especially the Tobacco warehouse are fantastic and too important to be left to fall into endless disrepair.We can only hope for something positive to happen sooner rather than later.I am sure the only reason the building is still in the state it is is because of the low ceilings throughout the building that have put off potential developers.Surely there is a way around this?

    November 18, 2009
  3. Hi Carl,
    You’re right, there must be a way round this. I know of buildings in every city that I’ve lived in where the owner is either uninterested in developing OR selling, or is leaving a building to rot so that they can later knock it down. I don’t see the trusty Stanley Dock buildings about to rot any time soon though. The only way I’ve seen is for an authority to compulsory purchase a building if such a move is for the greater good. See Apethorpe Hall, for example ( You’d probably have to come up with an exit strategy too if you wanted the government to buy it.

    November 23, 2009

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