Anger over plans for HM Revenue & Customs’ Liverpool hub
Conservationists voice fears over proposals to remodel listed city office block
Plans to reconfigure a Grade II* listed office building in Liverpool for use as one of HM Revenue and Customs’ proposed regional hubs has prompted fury from architecture campaigners.
The Twentieth Century Society, which exists to conserve the nation’s modern built heritage, has issued a strongly-worded criticism of proposals to upgrade the India Buildings.
HMRC does not own the building, pictured below, which is close to the city’s heritage waterfront. But the Twentieth Century Society said planning permission had been sought for internal reconfiguration works and the closure of a public arcade in order to secure the agency as a long-term tenant.
Conservation adviser Tess Pinto said the India Buildings were undoubtedly one of the finest inter-war structures in the country, and the shopping arcade was the centrepiece.
“Although it is not technically a right of way, the arcade has always been open for the public to enjoy and was designed for that purpose. It is a great shame that a government body will be curtailing public access to this stunning space, as well as destroying a lot of the surviving fabric on the upper floors,” she said.
“If HMRC is unwilling to compromise on its preference for open plan offices or to consider other alternatives in achieving its required level of security, we query why it has chosen to consolidate in a Grade II* listed building which is renowned for its public arcade and the outstanding survival of original fittings throughout.”
An HMRC spokesman said the agency still planned to open a regional centre in Liverpool, but said a lease had not been signed.
The agency’s proposals to consolidate its regional operations into 13 hubs were first floated in 2015, and are anticipated to lead to the closure of around 130 smaller offices over the next decade.
Bristol and Croydon are the only regional centres for which leases have been agreed.
Last month MPs on the Public Accounts Committee raised concerns about the estates strategy and its focus on “expensive” city-centre locations in particular, urging HMRC to report back later in the year on the methodology for the programme.
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