A new design has come forward for a site in Brunswick Business Park on the waterfront overlooking the Marina and Brunswick Dock and proposed to be built on the pre-existing car park.

Rather than simply put this is in the Notices section under Planning Updates which Engage usually does for new building development proposals we wanted to draw your attention to this particular project. We should say that we do not know the developer (Carpenter Investments) and have not been involved at any stage in these proposals, however, we have drawn up a number of basic post-Covid design principles that we think should be taken into account by any developer and the Regeneration Department as new apartment designs are submitted for planning approval.

Firstly we are delighted to see that on the drawings that have been published by Place North West we can see the plans for balconies on what looks like every apartment in the complex. This is an essential element for anyone who is considering buying or renting an apartment so that there is direct access to fresh air and the outdoors given our experience during lockdown when those of us with no back or front gardens had seriously reduced mental-health opportunities for relaxation and the well-being benefits of easy access to nature.

Secondly, and on the same subject, the plans for a roof garden are wonderful and the design is particularly interesting – and we have seen this before in other cities. The plans for Liverpool will need to incorporate areas for food growing and not just for ornamental trees and flowers, we could also make sure that some of the trees were fruit trees – after the successful waterfront dock project by the previous Resident Management Company at City Quay on the former Herculaneum Dock site, where they planted a 36 mixed-tree orchard of plum, apple and pear as well as raised beds for residents to grow vegetables and herbs.

It is proposed to be a mixed-use development with offices and commercial space as well as a roof-top restaurant. This sounds very promising as it will offer amenities to potential residents that few other complexes in Liverpool currently offer. Serious consideration will need to be given to the mix of public space and private space in this project especially when it comes to the gardens and roof-top trail which will need some careful management.

We would also want to suggest that in this complex the developer needs to consider creating space for the residential community to be able to come together and hold meetings as well as making opportunities to build and create community amongst the residential population, such as curating video-nights and gym access for those who would be interested. There are no comments so far on car parking spaces or the amount of bicycle storage on site or indeed on the renewable energy offer that is essential in these days of climate crisis. There should be electric car-charging places too for a community this size.

But this proposal is a real game-changer if it gets through planning intact and the finances stack up. Engage welcomes these ideas and this project. Many people we know have in the wake of their experiences during the Covid lockdown abandoned apartment living for the suburbs and developers and planners will need to work hard to attract potential owner-investors to reconsider city centre and waterfront living once more. It will all depend on the health and well-being benefits offered as well as the sense of community that is deliberately created. But this is a challenge that city authorities should relish.

Some examples of existing roof-top gardens:

Waldspirale in Darmstadt, Germany 

Namba Parks in Osaka, Japan

ACROS in Fukuoka, Japan

One Brunswick in Liverpool UK