News | 31/05/19

Business District masterplan due for public consultation

The public are to be asked their views on the development of Liverpool’s historic commercial district into a world class business location.

A vision document on the area, which covers 40 acres of Liverpool city centre and is home to many blue chip and well-known companies, is set to go out to public consultation in mid-June for five weeks.

The consultation will be led by place making specialists Arup and shedkm who were both appointed by the city council to create the Spatial Regeneration Framework (SRF) for the Commercial Business District.

The draft document aims to increase economic potential of the CBD by enhancing existing conditions to attract and retain businesses and by identifying opportunities to improve public realm and underused buildings.

According to the latest Commercial Office Market Review, produced in partnership by Liverpool BID Company and Professional Liverpool, an extra 582,084 sq ft of office space was occupied in the CBD area in 2018.

To address this issue the city council is seeking to support a £200m plan to develop a scheme in Pall Mall, with Kier Property and CTP, that will provide 400,000 sq ft of new Grade A office space and potentially create more than 2,000 jobs.

The scheme is vital to the city’s future economic success as available Grade A office space is now urgently required, and the SRF draft document identifies development plots for high quality office space within the city centre.

A report to Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet, next Friday, 7 June, is seeking approval for the consultation to launch on Monday, 17 June.

The CBD SRF consultation draft would then be available to view at until Monday, 21 July, where further details on how to provide comments and feedback online can be reviewed.

The project team consists of Arup as project lead and town planning consultants, architects and masterplanners shedkm, heritage consultant Rob Burns, and property consultant Worthington Owen.

Over the past six months, the team have been engaging with a wide range of consultees within the city to understand the key issues and opportunities of the area which have culminated in an SRF that presents an overarching vision, illustrative masterplan, development principles and guidance to direct future development and investment over the next 15-20 years.

As well as the document being available online, four exhibition events will be held allowing interested parties to speak to the team and explore the SRF further.

Dates include:

  • Thursday 20th June (10am–3pm) – RIBA, Mann Island, L3 1BP
  • Wednesday 26th June (2pm–7pm) – One Fine Day, Old Hall Street, L3 9BS
  • Monday 1st July (10am–3pm) – One Fine Day, Old Hall Street, L3 9BS
  • Wednesday 10th July (2pm–7pm) – RIBA, Mann Island, L3 1BP

The city council, together with the Liverpool BID Company, and other public and private sector partners, are jointly commissioning the SRF.

Once adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document it will give the council’s planning authority the ability to review and determine how different land uses can work together to meet demand and create a vibrant area, enabling Liverpool to compete with other major UK cities in attracting major companies.

The SRF would also include the proposing of design guidelines, including a strategy for potential public realm improvements and enhanced connectivity across the Commercial Business District to embrace neighbouring areas such as Peel’s £5bn Liverpool Waters scheme, to create a high quality and world class business environment that reflects its location within the city’s World Heritage Site.

The council is also investing £150m in new road infrastructure in and around the district and has recently obtained planning consent to create a new cruise terminal at nearby Princes Dock, with planning application recently submitted for an accompanying four star hotel.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said:Liverpool’s commercial business district is a major engine in the city’s economy and its future growth needs to be proactively managed to maximise its potential.

“The supply of Grade A office space is critical to any successful city centre seeking to attract quality investors and jobs which is why we need a long term vision which this Spatial Regeneration Framework will underpin.

“This is a critical piece of work because we all need to ensure the district remains a vital cog in our commercial economy for the next 20 years and beyond. Arup and the team have set out an approach that addresses these challenges in a way that will underpin the future of one our major employment zones and I look forward to this vital document being debated and discussed across the city to help shape its direction.”

Ian Ford, Arup project lead, said: “This has been a really exciting project to work on and we look forward to sharing the SRF through the consultation process. A vital part of this exercise is interacting with stakeholders and receiving comments and feedback to ensure we have considered all aspects within the CBD.

“We are passionate in making Liverpool’s CBD a unique and exciting location for businesses to come and invest. Not many Cities have a CBD with the same qualities Liverpool does and the SRF looks to build on these assets to attract high value, high skilled jobs that will support the City’s growth objectives.

“We have produced a vision which looks to enhance public realm and connectivity whilst identifying future opportunity plots for commercial office space. All this aims to create a vibrant, sustainable place for businesses, residents and visitors”.

Bill Addy, Chief Executive of Liverpool BID Company, which represents more than 800 businesses in the district, added: The Commercial Business District is unique to Liverpool, a vital contributor to the city region economy, and the preferred destination of choice in the city region for the professional sector and creative and digital industries.

“Earlier this year the BID’s Office Market Review reported office take-up in the district during 2018 to have increased by an impressive 46.8% compared to 2017, the highest take-up since records began. However, while there is much to celebrate, the report did highlight the challenges we face, and we recognise that more can be achieved for this part of the city if we all work together.

“Our investment in the SRF demonstrates the BID’s commitment in creating an even better CBD, driving investment into the area and creating jobs. We want a CBD that has improved connectivity with other key developments across the city region, that is greener – with enhanced public realm for our levy paying businesses and visitors to enjoy, and a district that meets the demand for high quality, Grade A office space, which remains a major concern for its long-term sustainability.

“We welcome the news that the SRF is heading into public consultation, and I encourage as many people as possible to engage with and help shape this ambitious vision that will safeguard the district’s future growth.”