New Liverpool museum fined for blocking view
National Museums Liverpool (NML), a publicly funded body, stumped up the cash rather than be taken to court by property firm Downing, which owns the Port of Liverpool Building.
When the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board sold the land on which the new museum stands to the Liverpool Corporation in 1963, it stipulated that any future building could not be placed within 40 feet of the river or be taller than 40 feet in order to preserve the Port of Liverpool Building’s view of the historic Pilotage office – one of the city’s famous Three Graces. The museum contravenes both requirements.
Initially, lawyers for NML estimated that the fine would be £70,000, but the board eventually chose to pay more than 10 times that amount up front in order to keep the project on track.
It may have been a canny move, given the project’s difficult birth. At £4m over budget and months behind schedule, the last thing the £72m project needed was further complications. There was also controversy surrounding NML’s dismissal of Danish design firm 3XN in favour of AEW, a Manchester company.
NML is keen to consign the museum’s troubles to the past. “All the hard work and the difficult decisions we’ve made are starting to bear fruit,” said a spokesman. “We are at a stage now where the building is complete and internal fitting out has begun. The new Museum of Liverpool looks fantastic and excitement is mounting for its opening in Spring 2011.”