Plans for an urban farm on a long empty site between Liverpool Cathedral and the Baltic Triangle were approved by Liverpool Council this afternoon.
Members of the authority's planning committee gave the green light for Great George Street Developments (GGSD) to set up Baltic Farm on part of the former New Chinatown site on the corner between Great George Street and St James Street.
It means a new food-growing operation and community events venue can now be set up on the site temporarily.
GGSD is the developer behind proposals approved last year for the transformation of a much larger stretch of land around where the farm is set to be located.
The Great George Street Project would see offices, shops, public space and 450 apartments built and the Baltic Farm was granted permission today as a “meanwhile use” before building work on the permanent scheme would start on that part of the site.
Dr Paul Myers, co-founder of Farm Urban, which is collaborating with GGSD on the farm, said they would look to heavily involve the local community in the development and operation of the farm.
Dr Myers said: “Our vision is to create a socially-transformative, community-embedded urban farm and cultural events space that connects our local community, builds a local food network, fills homes with fresh local food and creates engaging and meaningful jobs.
“The Baltic Farm has the potential to be such a special project, it will allow us to share the work we are doing with all members of our local community.”
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However campaigner Josie Mullen spoke against the plans at this morning's meeting.
Ms Mullen, who told committee she campaigned on behalf of investors in the failed New Chinatown project once planned for the site, said there were concerns around whether the project could function effectively within its two year time limit.
Ms Mullen, a former Liverpool councillor, said: “I am totally in support of this type of initiative but I have concerns around the timing.
“It would take quite a while to set this up.
“My concern is that by the time the structures are set up and in place it will be time to close it down.”
She said potential uncertainty around the use of the land would not help the community around the site who she said were “at their wits end” over the long empty plot of land.
The urban farm is the latest in a series of plans proposed for the long empty stretch of land, which was the subject of multiple schemes which failed to materialise and whose former owners owed Liverpool Council in the region of £1m at the time they sold it to GGSD.
In December Liverpool Council approved GGSD’s proposals for the site which included a new public park and office space as well as hundreds of apartments.
The wider site, which stretches between Great George Street, St James Street and Upper Frederick Street, has been empty for decades.
In 2015 it was the subject of the New Chinatown development proposal from North Point Global who wanted to transform the land there into new homes.
The plans did not materialise and after the collapse of a contractor and legal proceedings against NPG's sister company, the site was sold in 2018 and the Serious Fraud Office opened an investigation into the site this year which is ongoing.
Parts of the site also remain at the centre of a legal dispute between the former owners and the council, with Liverpool Council still owed almost £1m that was carried over when the site was bought, but the area where the urban farm would be lies in an area unaffected by that legal dispute.