Short term investment needed in North West to boost powerhouse

Short term investments or project delivery in Manchester and Liverpool will be crucial to ensure the medium to long term success of the Northern Powerhouse initiative, according to a report prepared by Bilfinger GVA.

The research piece ‘Northern Powerhouse: Realising its full potential’ was launched across three of the North’s core cities, including at Liverpool’s International Waterfront Forum (IWF) 2016 on Thursday 16th June.

Nicola Rigby, director in the Planning, Development and Regeneration team at Bilfinger GVA and primary author of the research, said:

“Whilst the Northern Powerhouse is a long term ambition, there is a need to deliver in the short term to ensure momentum. Investment tends to follow investment. We should not underestimate the importance of ‘quick win’ projects, and the need to fast-track the delivery of projects that are stalled or delayed. There is a lot to be said for the, “if you build it, they will come” mentality, although to maximise its impact and contribution it must be supported by a coherent investment proposition.”

Amongst other findings, the report reveals that whilst the Liverpool city region has seen significant levels of employment growth in the logistics sector, there is still a lack of immediately available logistics space to maximise the potential associated with SUPERPORT and Mersey Gateway investment.

Beyond logistics, the research recognises the importance of key projects including the Liverpool Knowledge Quarter (including Bio Campus), the Enterprise Zones, and with a specific focus on advanced manufacturing, the Materials Innovation Factory, and the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

The report details projects across the five Northern Powerhouse cities – Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield.

Nicola added:

“Each region needs to identify its key projects and begin to articulate, in the context of the Northern Powerhouse, a clear and relevant proposition to attract investment. Almost universally, we’ve identified a lack of short term deliverable projects across the north, which align with the capabilities identified.”

Whilst the research shows that each city region might possess dominance in certain capabilities when compared with the others, it does not support the view that the strategy response can be as crude as sectors to cities as e.g. “digital focus of the North” or “Logistics focus of the North” for example.

She adds:

“A more sophisticated response is needed, considering how the key projects identified across each city region link back to the strategic ambition and opportunity across the North – where scale can be demonstrated. These projects must be suitable, in the right places, and being delivered at the right time, to realise high value growth. The public and private sector must work together to unlock these opportunities to deliver the ambition.”


Key findings on Liverpool

  • Lack of short term / immediately available logistics space to maximise potential associated with SUPERPORT and Mersey Gateway investment. The key here is the scale of individual plots available in these locations, offering potential to attract national logistics operators.
  • Significant health opportunity identified as part of the Liverpool Knowledge Quarter, concentrated within the Pembroke Place Corridor – and in particular as part of later phases of the Royal Liverpool University Hospital (RLUH) redevelopment.
  • Strong commercial offer coming forward to serve the digital sector, benefitting in each case from Enterprise Zone status.

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