Sunday, 16 December 2012

Liverpool India Buildings

As the coalition proceeds with its ideologically driven “bonfire of regulations” property developers are tempted to employ ever more extreme measures to “sweat their assets”. The notion that buildings of architectural merit should be protected is perceived as an inconvenient bureaucratic barrier to economic growth. Listed buildings are never more vulnerable than when a new owner comes on the scene, all puffed up with the conceit that here is an asset just waiting to be transformed by his unique vision. Such a fate has befallen a grade II listed office building in Liverpool, India Buildings in Water Street, completed in 1930 where owner Green Property plans to do away with the handsome vaulted shopping arcade that runs through the building. Gavin Stamp writing in Private Eye 1329 makes the case for retaining the arcade and correctly describes India Buildings as “a monumental essay in modern commercial Classicism”. Local campaigners are doing their best to oppose this vandalism but history is not on their side. The city of Liverpool has, in the last decade, been a test bed for the privatisation of public space. All of which only encourages developers to disregard public access issues in the interests of maximising their revenues. 

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