Developer Network Space secures £15.5m loan from Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram to transform a former distillery into a logistics complex that could house 1,000 workers. Tony McDonough reports
Up to 1,000 new jobs could be created at a former Merseyside drinks distillery which is being transformed into a logistics complex by developer Network Space.
It acquired the 446,151 sq ft site from Lambrini maker Halewood Artisanal Spirits in March 2021. Now known as Sovereign Industrial Park, Network Space will build two industrial units of 29,600 sq ft and 22,300 sq ft.
The company will also carry out the selective demolition and refurbishment of existing buildings to create an 87,400 sq ft single unit. There will also be a terrace of six units of 7,700 sq ft each.
On Monday Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram agreed a £15.5m loan for the project. This included a £6.75m loan from the Liverpool City Region Urban Development Fund (UDF) and £8.7m from the Chrysalis Fund.
Chrysalis is a £35m revolving fund that is part of the CA’s Strategic Investment Fund. Managed by igloo Investment Management, it is focused on supporting major property projects in the city region. It is an EU-backed fund.
Aimed at light industrial, logistics and SME occupiers, Sovereign Industrial Park could offer space for up to 1,000 workers. That could be in the form of new jobs or via the relocation of existing employers from within the city region.
New jobs are a real possibility. With the launch of the Liverpool City Region Freeport now imminent there is significant demand for logistics space across the city region. LCR Freeport director John Lucy is reporting “phenomenal” interest from potential overseas investors.
Dan Adamson, group finance director at Network Space, said: “This is a strategically important site. Repurposing existing buildings, alongside the delivery of new, energy efficient units, is a complex process. So it was important for Network Space to work with a funder which understands and supports what we’re trying to achieve.
“Liverpool city region, with its focus on delivering jobs, inward investment and economic growth is a perfect partner. We look forward to delivering a sustainable development that will regenerate this area of Knowsley. This will deliver a thriving business destination offering a wide variety of high quality workspace.”
The LCR Urban Development Fund is a £25m fund managed under the Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund framework. The fund is backed by the 2014-2020 ERDF England Operational Programme.
Mr Rotheram added: “Investing in a project such as this really is a no brainer. It will give a big boost to Knowsley and the wider city region economy. The returns it will generate means that we’ll be able to reap the rewards and reinvest in new projects.”
In September 2021, LBN reported how returns from previous Chrysalis Fund investments would benefit community groups to the tune of £480,000. Since its launch in 2012, the fund has supported more than £100m of property developments across the city region.
Cllr Graham Morgan, leader of Knowsley Council, also said: “This funding will help to accelerate the repurposing of this site into a multi-let industrial estate. It will not only bring an empty space back into use, but it will also provide exactly the type of space that businesses are currently seeking.
“This will ultimately lead to job creation for local people, and the further strengthening of the local economy.”
It is estimated more than 2,000 tonnes of carbon will be saved by creating the new industrial estate using sustainable construction methods. This is in tandem with adopting low carbon initiatives including EV charging, solar panels and low energy lighting.
The repurposing proposals will be undertaken in two phases. The planning application for phase one has already been submitted and is due for determination in the next couple of months. Phase two planning is expected to be submitted in early 2023.