Council backs business district consultation – but confusion over ‘new station’ remains

Experts behind the Spatial Regeneration Framework for the 40-acre central business district says it is vital new grade A office space is built. Tony McDonough reports

Pall Mall
Green space will be included in Liverpool’s £200m Pall Mall scheme

 

A major strategy that will address Liverpool’s chronic shortage of grade A office space will go out to public consultation.

A new Spatial Regeneration Framework (SRF) for the 40-acre central business district (CBD) was produced by experts at Arup and shedkm. Heritage consultant Rob Burns, and property consultant Worthington Owen were also part of the project team.

It is a comprehensive document which proposes a transformation of the CBD into a “world class business location”. And it identifies one of the main issues as being the provision of grade A office space. The pipeline in the CBD has dried up, severely hampering the city’s ability to attract blue-chip occupiers.

A planning application to create 400,000 sq ft of office space at Pall Mall from Kier Property and CTP is expected to come before the council this month with the authority fully behind the project.

Funding for the £200m scheme has yet to be secured although city council chief executive Tony Reeves told LBN a few days ago he is confident that the funding will materialise.

The draft document aims to grow the economy of the CBDwhich currently has a workforce of more than 60,000 people, over the next 15-20 years by:

  • Enhancing transport links and connectivity.
  • Identifying development plots for high quality office space.
  • Transforming underused buildings.
  • Improving public realm.
  • Internationally marketing the area.

However, there is still confusion over a line in the SRF document which refers to a “new Merseyrail station close to Mann Island”. Prominent Labour councillors, including James Noakes and Nick Small, both insisted it actually refers to a new entrance for James Street, not a new station.

Cllr Andrew Makinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council, criticised the lack of clarity from the authority and claimed a proposal to build a new station at Mann Island would be a “stupid idea”.

SRF
The SRF document specifically refers to a ‘new station’ at Mann Island

 

The council is also investing £150m in new road infrastructure in and around the district and has recently obtained planning consent to create a new cruise terminal at nearby Princes Dock, with planning application recently submitted for an accompanying four star hotel.

Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company, which represents more than 800 businesses in the CBD, said: The CBD is unique to Liverpool, a vital contributor to the city region economy, and the preferred destination of choice in the city region for the professional sector and creative and digital industries.

Earlier this year the BID’s Office Market Review reported office take-up in the district during 2018 to have increased by an impressive 46.8% compared to 2017, the highest take-up since records began.

“However, while there is much to celebrate, the report did highlight the challenges we face, and we recognise that more can be achieved for this part of the city if we all work together. Our investment in the SRF demonstrates the BID’s commitment in creating an even better CBD, driving investment into the area and creating jobs.

The CBD SRF consultation will launch on Monday, June 17, and will be available to view at www.liverpool.gov.uk/consultation until Monday, July 21, containing further details on how to provide comments and feedback online.

To complement the consultation four exhibition events will be held allowing interested parties to speak to the team and explore the SRF further. Dates include:

  • Thursday, June 20 (10am–3pm) – RIBA, Mann Island, L3 1BP
  • Wednesday, June 26 (2pm–7pm) – One Fine Day, Old Hall Street, L3 9BS
  • Monday, July 1 (10am–3pm) – One Fine Day, Old Hall Street, L3 9BS
  • Wednesday, July 10 (2pm–7pm) – RIBA, Mann Island, L3 1BP

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