Community interest company has turned the Liverpool docklands district into one of the UK’s fastest-growing digital and creative clusters in just 10 years. Tony McDonough reports
Having transformed Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle district from a collection of largely empty warehouses into a thriving business hub, Baltic Creative CIC is now looking to replicate its success in other locations.
The community interest company has turned the docklands area, just south of the city centre, into one of the UK’s fastest-growing digital and creative clusters in just 10 years. It manages 118,000 sq ft of space which is home to more than 180 businesses employing 600-plus people.
Its success has been a catalyst for the growth of the entire district which is now home to more than 400 businesses. As well as the digital and creative ventures, a number of popular bars and restaurants have also sprung up, the latest being Lu Ban at Cains Brewery Village.
Now Baltic Creative CIC has unveiled its next phase of growth. This will see at least two new spaces in emerging digital, creative and tech (DCT) neighbourhoods in Southport and Liverpool’s Fabric District. The CIC’s board of directors will also explore opportunities in North Liverpool, Bootle and Birkenhead, as well as investing in its existing footprint in the Baltic Triangle.
Baltic Creative managing director Mark Lawler said: “What has been achieved over the past 10 years is greater than what we originally thought possible and that is largely down to the dedication of our team and the instant support we received from the digital and creative community.
“There’s no doubt that there are challenges ahead, especially with the current political uncertainty that we’re facing. We will of course respond to this in the most appropriate manner, but our plans continue to be bold, and we are more passionate than ever about delivering Baltic Creative space across the region and in doing so, supporting one of the city’s most flourishing sectors.”
As a community interest company, Baltic Creative reinvests all its profits back into property, tenants or the sector. It operates a strict lettings policy meaning that space in its buildings, which include Creative Campus, Northern Lights and the recently launched Digital House, is only occupied by creative and digital businesses.
Not only does this keep appropriate office space affordable, well-managed and tailored to sector needs, it also encourages collaboration between like-minded, innovative businesses.
“The digital and creative sector in the Liverpool city region remains strong and is growing at a rate of 2.5 times faster than other sectors,” added Fiona Armstrong-Gibb, the new chair of Baltic Creative CIC. “We are still experiencing high levels of interest in our spaces and we have people on waiting lists, which is why we are so determined to grow.
“Looking ahead to 2024, we envision a region-wide family of creative spaces, places, and clusters that are interconnected and supportive of each other, but equally differentiated by their own personalities, drawing on the diversity of people, skills and industries that are the region’s strengths.”