New commission aims to revitalise 17 Mersey town centres

Liverpool City Region Town Centres Commission will produce a final report setting out a vision for ‘prosperous town centres’. Tony McDonough reports

Steve Rotheram
Steve Rotheram with members of the Liverpool City Region Town Centres Commission


A new commission set up by Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram will focus on revitalising 17 urban centres across the six boroughs.

Made up of 13 individuals with experience across a broad range of sectors, the Liverpool City Region Town Centres Commission have met for the first time when they were joined by Mr Rotheram. It will meet regularly until September 2020.

The commission will produce a final report setting out a vision for “prosperous town centres” in the Liverpool city region, along with recommendations for how that can be achieved.

The commission is independent and will be chaired by Sarah Longlands, Director of IPPR North. IPPR North has also been commissioned by the Combined Authority to act as a secretariat for the Commission.

The 17 urban centres identified in the report are Liverpool city centre and town centres at Widnes, Runcorn, Halton Lea, Huyton, Kirkby, Prescot, Southport, Bootle, St Helens, Earlstown, Birkenhead, Liscard (Wallasey), Heswall, Moreton, New Brighton West Kirby.

Mr Rotheram said: “There has been a renewed focus on towns following December’s General Election – and with good reason. Our economy, both regionally and nationally, will not thrive unless success is shared between our cities and our towns. This is something I have been acutely aware of.

“When I was elected in 2017, I promised that no borough would be left behind. That’s why I established a £6m fund to help revitalise high streets in every part of our region. It’s why I’ve helped our local councils in their efforts to regenerate town centres, such as the £15m of support we’ve offered to Knowsley Council for Kirkby and it’s why I have established this commission.

“We are bringing together experts from a range of sectors to help us find sustainable solutions to the challenges we face. I want this commission to help us safeguard the future of our town centres to ensure that they remain at the heart of our communities for generations to come.”

It is proposed that the commission will use the following four policy areas as a core focus for its work:

  • How do town centres support a sense of place and belonging in Liverpool city region?
  • How can policy decisions on the environment, planning, and infrastructure best support our town centres?
  • How can town centres operate as a hub for business and civil society in the longer term?
  • How can town centres manage change to play a role in the future?

Sarah Longlands added: “Historically, town centres have been important for local communities, offering people a place to shop, access services and to celebrate.  They are more than just streets and shop fronts but often represent an area’s history and identity.”

The Commissioners are:

Alex Singleton, Professor of Geographic Information Science, University of Liverpool

Bronwen Rapley, chief executive, Onward Homes

Claire McColgan, director, Culture Liverpool

Cllr Pam Thomas, Liverpool City Council

Dan Davies, chief executive, Rockpoint Leisure

John Csizmadia, Lloyds Banking Group

Kim Cooper, senior town planner, @ideasforliverpool (Arup)

Laura Pye, director, National Museums Liverpool

Liam Kelly, chief executive, Make CIC

Phil McCabe, Federation of Small Businesses

Sarah Taylor, executive director, Sefton Council

Sarah Longlands, director, IPPR North (Chair)

Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive, Power to Change

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