Blog: 12 June 2017Lessons for Liverpool’s Commonwealth Bid - part 2

Greg Dickson

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Greg Dickson

Planning Director

Manchester office

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The 2014 Games had a beneficial impact on Glasgow (see previous blog post) but questions have since turned to the legacy that has been left since the Games ended.

From a regeneration perspective, the Games were centred on the neighbourhood of Dalmarnock in the East End of Glasgow. The choice of location benefitted from the fact that the area fell within the boundaries of the Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company, established in 2008 to lead Scotland’s biggest and most ambitious regeneration programme. This included the early use of compulsory purchase powers to acquire the land required to accommodate the Games. This work led to the delivery of the Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Tollcross International Swimming Centre; and the Glasgow Green National Hockey Centre. These facilities have left a sporting legacy for the city and transformed the physical environment in the East End of Glasgow, particularly around Bridgeton and Dalmarnock.

As a Practice we are currently engaged by City Legacy Ltd on a planning application for Phase II of the Athletes Village and it is the Village that has probably had the most significant and large scale impact upon the local environment of Glasgow’s East End. Some 700 new homes (over half of them for private sale) not only changed the physical look of Dalmarnock but brought new people into the area, particularly homeowners who would not previously have chosen to stay there.

Local reaction to the new housing was generally positive but there were detractors, some of whom were concerned about gentrification of a traditional working class area. However, while the criticism that homes were built before services is fair – and given the timescales for the Commonwealth Games that was possibly unavoidable – the recent decision by Glasgow City Council to build a new primary school in the area, alongside investment in local community facilities has resolved some of these criticisms.

Stephen Tucker our Scottish Partner was heavily involved in the regeneration of Dalmarnock and the Games, having been part of the team that secured the planning consent for the Athletes Village. Stephen is very clear that ‘Clyde Gateways efforts to transform the East End were immeasurably improved by the Games because of the speed, scale and concentration of change.’

As he says ‘the existing local community benefitted but also had to endure the demolition and construction phase and that is hard for any community to take. The broader East End and City community view the Games as a positive. Long term change in the way people live their lives and their attitudes to health and fitness takes time to happen (and measure) but the infrastructure is there and Glasgow and the East End has changed for the better.'

Looking to Liverpool, the development of new stadia and infrastructure to support the Commonwealth Games could be spectacular for north Liverpool’s waterfront. It would also be a powerful statement that would resonate globally. 

In terms of early work, Liverpool would be wise to follow Glasgow’s lead in acquiring and securing the land required to deliver the Games and supporting infrastructure early. Regard will also need to be given at an early stage to the design, orientation and layout of the sports development and Athletes Village to ensure that high quality new buildings can take their place alongside those that are valued part of the city’s architectural heritage and contribute to the City’s World Heritage Site status.

The delivery of the Commonwealth Village would contribute to the delivery of housing over the plan period of the emerging Liverpool Local Plan (i.e. next 15 to 20 years). Taken alongside the Council’s ambitious plans for the area known locally as ‘Ten Streets’, the proposals could be truly transformative for the neighbourhoods to the immediate north of Liverpool City Centre.

Consideration will also need to be given to ensure that there are adequate transport links between the Games facilities and key transport hubs in the City (such as Liverpool Lime Street Station and Liverpool John Lennon Airport). This would need to build upon the work that is already ongoing as part of the Liverpool City Centre Connectivity Scheme (LCCCS) to further accelerate accessible growth across the city centre.

Hosting of the Commonwealth Games represents a unique opportunity for Liverpool and the City can draw on recent experiences in both in the City in 2008 and north of the border in 2014 to build confidence and buy-in across the Liverpool City Region and ensure that the Games genuinely deliver a long-term legacy for the City Region.  

Read part 1 of Greg's blog here.

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