It’s my privilege and honour to pen the very first blog on the Regenerating Liverpool website.
As you may have read on here, the city is currently overseeing £13bn of regeneration schemes – so, as you’ll appreciate, there is a huge amount to say.
Indeed, we are currently in the midst of an unprecedented rate of regeneration and much of it has been developed whilst a global recession was on!
That should tell you a lot about how much effort my regeneration team, led by Nick Kavanagh, is investing in putting Liverpool back in business or, as our strapline says, “unlocking the city’s capital”.
Liverpool is a city full of potential. But potential needs realising. How do you unlock that potential?
For me, my number one goal has always been to create new jobs, new homes and new venues for people to work, live and play in this great city of ours.
But the city council cannot do this alone. Partnerships are the smart way forward and that is our greatest asset.
These past few weeks have been a perfect illustration of what I am talking about.
As you will have seen the city has launched its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
We have put together an unbelievably talented team led by the former head of the FA, Brian Barwick, who have created an inspiring plan to host a truly transformational games.
Our team includes major organisations like Everton and Liverpool Football Club, Peel and Manchester City Council as well as inspiring individuals be it from the sporting world like our very own Beth Tweddle, Steve Parry or Tony Bellew to architects like Kevin Wilson, a Liverpool lad who designed London’s Olympic Park, no less.
This is a team that means business. This a bid that means business. This is city that means business.
If we are chosen to be England’s candidate city in September and then go on to be chosen by the Commonwealth Games Federation in December, it will unlock and accelerate a £1bn worth of regeneration and create 12,000 jobs.
The 50m pool in the docks, Everton’s new stadium in Bramley Moore Dock, Anfield as host of the Opening and Closing ceremonies will help to attract a global audience of more than 1 billion people.
But the bid is not just an opportunity to showcase the city to the world – important as that is.
After the games, that pool will remain as a legacy. The Athletes villages in Nelson and Stanley Dock will bring 1,700 homes on to the market. More than £150m will have been invested in the transport infrastructure in around the stadium which will greatly enhance the appeal of the area to businesses looking for a great connection between the port, the motorway system – and a major city centre.
There will be no cost to council tax payers and there will be income streams from these developments that will offset any investment. In fact not bidding would be more costly as the process has already accelerated schemes that were 30 years away. Nelson and Bramley Moore Dock being prime examples.
The Athletes Village, incidentally, partly falls within the recently launched Ten Streets district – which is a 10 year scheme to develop a major creative hub. A successful 2022 bid will transform that timeline too.
For me personally, this is a vital scheme as Ten Streets sits within the poorest ward in the UK – Kirkdale – and goes to the heart of our goal of rebalancing Liverpool’s economy.
Employment in Liverpool currently stands at 64%. It should be closer to 74%.
To achieve that jump we need to think big and deliver.
The Ten Streets masterplan is a great example as is the Knowledge Quarter, which will soon be home to RCP North and this week welcomed the opening of Sensor City, where the council is working hand in hand with private and public sector partners to develop our cutting edge sectors (be it digital marketing to bio medical research) and create world leading hubs in the city that generate quality jobs.
We have the talent. We just need to foster it and create the right conditions for it to grow. Liverpool’s film Industry is another example where we have huge potential and that’s why the city council with John Moores University will be looking to develop its world class reputation as a city of actors, writers, directors and producers – as well as a stunning location – by bidding to be host for Channel Four.
Of course we have to look at the whole picture and quality office space is critical to attracting blue chip companies into the city. The city has a lack of Grade A+ office space, something the council is seeking to rectify as can be seen in Pall Mall Exchange – where we are partnered with Kier Construction and CTP Limited to provide up to 400,000 sq ft of offices over three new buildings. And I understand the public consultation this week showed there’s huge interest in this scheme.
Another critical piece of the jigsaw is quality housing which is a vital component in making any city an attractive place to work and enjoy.
To this end the Liverpool Housing Partnership is another brilliant example of how we are working with partners – in this case Liverpool Mutual Homes and Redrow – to unlock parcels of land to create new homes. Thanks to an innovative approach we are using the capital receipts from homes sold by Redrow to build affordable housing. The aim is to deliver 1,500 new homes in the next 5 years. We are on target.
In fact, such is the success of the scheme the city council is about to go one step further and create a new development and housing company to build 10,000 new homes in 10 years.
It’s a nice challenge to have. Because it means the city is growing.
As you can tell, I am passionate about making Liverpool a success story. And all successful cities never stop regenerating.
I’m not for one second pretending there are challenges ahead. As you may have also seen in the news this week, our World Heritage status is in the balance with what is being proposed in Liverpool Waters.
But there is a golden opportunity here to showcase how the city sensitively deals with our heritage when it comes to regeneration.
Since 2012 alone £670m has been invested in upgrading historic buildings within the World Heritage site, 37 listed buildings have been refurbished and there’s been a dramatic 75% drop in listed buildings at risk.
Historic England have praised our efforts. Europe has chosen us a Heritage Role Model.
There is so much to celebrate about what Liverpool is doing in this field.
Our track record (be it Stanley Dock, the Aloft Hotel to Central library) fills me with confidence we will continue to celebrate our heritage and deliver regeneration.
Now, fingers and toes crossed the Commonwealth Games judging panel give us one more reason to celebrate.
I look forward to updating you again in the near future on all of the above and more!
My very best wishes,