Industry body Mersey Maritime is leading the Maritime Knowledge Hub project in Wirral Waters with strategic partners Liverpool John Moores University, Wirral Council and Peel Group. Tony McDonough reports
Work could begin in the summer on a £25m maritime training, research and business incubation hub on the banks of the Mersey.
Industry body Mersey Maritime is leading the Maritime Knowledge Hub project in Wirral Waters with strategic partners Liverpool John Moores University, Wirral Council and Peel Group.
Focused on Liverpool city region’s £4bn maritime sector, the facility will provide up to 60,000 sq ft of new incubation space, teaching, research and development, training, commercial and cultural space. It will also be the home for an Offshore Survival Training Centre.
It could also play a key role in Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s plan for a £3.5bn barrage across the Mersey which he claims could provide power for 200,000 homes.
Location for the hub will be a Grade II-listed Victorian hydraulic tower in Wirral’s docklands. The building is a a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. It suffered bomb damage in World War II and is now derelict and unused.
The scheme is currently out to architectural competition, with world class architects putting forward a range of innovative designs.
Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, said: “This will be a real game-changer, not just for the maritime sector but for the whole city region economy.
“Our local maritime sector is an industry powerhouse, with recognised world-class expertise, and is now seen as the UK leader. We account for 13% of Merseyside’s annual GVA and employ more than 28,000 people.
“We can be in the vanguard of Britain’s post-Brexit push for a bigger slice of global trade. The Maritime Knowledge Hub will ensure we are at the forefront of innovation in technology, skills and business growth.”
The Maritime Knowledge Hub project will be showcased at the Mersey Maritime Annual Awards at Liverpool FC on Thursday, March 8.
David Dingle, chair of both Maritime UK and Carnival UK, added: “News that work is to start on Merseyside’s new blue growth hub this summer is fantastic. The UK exists in an intensely competitive global maritime marketplace, and we need to stay at the head of the pack.
“By bringing industry, academia and local government together, we will capitalise upon our existing strengths and foster innovation across technology, design, manufacturing and services.
“The new hub will not just be an asset for the city region, but for the whole UK. It’s our aim to create a network of similar hubs and Merseyside is showing how it’s done. “
The Wirral Waters site will also contain the MEA Park (Marine, Energy and Automotive Park) – a 1m sq ft waterside manufacturing, logistics, R&D and assembly campus.
Richard Mawdsley, director of development at Peel Land and Property, added: “The Maritime Knowledge Hub is great example of what’s possible through true collaboration. Wirral Waters is more than just new buildings.
“It is about proper regeneration, and that means jobs. By investing in both skills and world class facilities, all focused on high value growth sectors such as maritime we can create good quality training and career opportunities.”
Cllr Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Council, added: “Wirral has a hard fought and deserved reputation as a centre of excellence for clean energy manufacturing and innovation.
“We are seeing consistent growth and momentum in the market, with Ørsted opening its £10m new facility recently, market-leading Steam Marine Training choosing Wirral as their base and historic Cammell Laird continuing their renaissance through winning more and more business. This is clear further proof of our position at the centre of this growing industry.
“The industry is creating jobs and bringing new skills and expertise to the area, and I am delighted the Metro Mayor is so committed to ensuring our region is powered by clean, renewable energy. The River Mersey is part of our heritage and our DNA, and it’s absolutely right that it’s a fundamental part of our future, too.”