40-acre district is being held back by a chronic shortage of both grade A and grade B office space, hampering efforts to attract outside occupiers and service the needs of local firms. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool’s new look City Council Cabinet will be asked to approve the drawing uo of a masterplan to develop the city’s commercial district.
A new Spatial Regeneration Framework (SRF) is being proposed that would reinvigorate the district, which is being held back by a chronic shortage of grade A office space, and connect it to nearby Princes Dock.
The district, which covers 40 acres at the northern fringe of the city centre, predominantly consists of professional offices but a rise in residential use through Permitted Development Rights is impacting on the potential to grow the city economy particularly with regard to supplying grade A and B office space.
A new pipeline of both is urgently required both to help attract external investors and occupiers and to satisfy demand from firms in the city looking to upgrade.
Liverpool’s business district saw office take-up up rise by 16% in 2016, at 396,436 sq ft – the highest take-up since 2009 – but vacant office stock continues to fall and now stands at 958,083 sq ft with only 330,438 sq ft ready to occupy.
To address this issue the city council is seeking to support a £200m plan to develop a scheme in Pall Mall, with Kier Property, that will provide 400,000 sq ft of grade A office space.
The council is also investing £100m in new road infrastructure at the northern fringe of the district and has recently submitted a planning application to create a new cruise terminal at Princes Dock, which lies less than 400 yards from the district’s current boundary.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Liverpool’s business district is a major engine in the city’s economy and its future growth needs to be proactively managed to maximise its potential and further underpin the development of Liverpool Waters.
“The supply of grade A office space is critical to any successful city centre which is why we are supporting the Pall Mall development but to stimulate demand and provide more supply, which will in turn create much needed jobs in the professional sector, we need a long term vision which this Spatial Regeneration Framework will underpin.”
Steve Stuart, chair of the Professional & Business Services Board for Liverpool City Region, added: “There is a shared concern between public and private sector about the commercial office market in Liverpool in terms of low rentals and availability of high quality grade A and grade B space.
“Working with partners we recommend a framework that enables the proactive development of the commercial district that can meet current and future demands.”