Property giant Peel L&P has submitted a planning application for the proposed £25m Maritime Knowledge Hub at Wirral Waters. Tony McDonough reports
Peel L&P has submitted a planning application to Wirral Council for the £25m Maritime Knowledge Hub (MKH) in Wirral Waters.
Industry body Mersey Maritime unveiled plans for the MKH at London Shipping Week six years ago. It is projected it will lead to the creation of 4,000 jobs in the first five years. The facility will also house a supercomputer.
Work is scheduled to start in 2023 with an expected build time of 18 months. A 60,000 sq ft facility, it will be built around the Grade II-listed 19th century hydraulic tower building. The tower is a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, designed by John Bernard Hartley.
Plans also include business accelerator space and conference facilities. Designed by architects Ellis Williams Architects, the MKH is set to be one of the most important parts of the Wirral Waters regeneration project.
The architects have retained as much of the building’s original character as possible. They aim to complement the tower with the creation of a new four-storey extension. Preserving and protecting of the Grade II-listed structure has been integral to the design.
Richard Mawdsley, director of development for Wirral Waters at Peel L&P, said: “This is a pioneering regeneration project. It will offer so much to the UK’s maritime sector. Wirral and the Liverpool city region have a proud maritime heritage.
“The development of the MKH will not only continue that heritage. It also presents a fantastic opportunity for job creation and economic growth for the Liverpool city region and beyond.
“The design of the hub and the regeneration of the tower is very special. Education, industry and culture is at its very core. This tower is a very important local asset, full of history and heritage. It’s only right that it takes centre stage of the Wirral Waters regeneration project.”
Within the MKH there will be a particular focus on the decarbonisation of the maritime industry. There will also be technology transfer from other industries. And it will bring education, employers and businesses together to drive innovation and research.
Wirral Council is a core partner to the Maritime Knowledge Hub project. It is working closely with Peel L&P, Mersey Maritime and the Combined Authority to enable the project to start construction in 2023.
Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, added: “The maritime industry, and Mersey Maritime have been championing this project. Our commitment to it is resolute.
“It is really needed and now is the time to crack on with the work. This project speaks to the heart of the collaboration opportunities that drive our activity on a day-to-day basis. The timing couldn’t be better.
“Decarbonisation is firmly on the agenda with the next stage of the Government’s Clean Maritime demonstration competition about to get under way. Crucially, the project will deliver thousands of well-paid and high-quality jobs where they are needed most.”