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Team appointed to create new vision for Liverpool’s commercial district

A team has been appointed by Liverpool City Council to create a new vision for Liverpool’s commercial district.

The group is tasked with producing a Spatial Regeneration Framework (SRF) to develop the district further, identify commercial investment opportunities and improve connection to wider development sites including Liverpool Waters.

Arup will lead the team with strategic planning advice, with shedkm working on masterplanning and urban design, Rob Burns focusing on heritage, and property expertise coming from Worthington Owen.

The proposing of design guidelines, including a strategy for potential public realm improvements and enhanced connectivity across the commercial district and parts of its city centre surroundings, would also be included in the SRF.

The city council has joined forces with the Commercial District BID and other public and private sector partners to commission the framework for the 40-acre area, which predominantly consists of offices but has seen a rise in residential and other uses.

The emergence of other uses is believed to have impacted on the potential to grow the city economy, particularly when it comes to supplying Grade A and B office space.

Through the SRF, the council’s planning authority aims to review and determine how different land uses can work together to meet demand and add vibrancy whilst focusing on commercial growth and quality.

The appointment of the team comes as the local authority looks to progress a £200 million scheme in Pall Mall during Friday’s (9 October) cabinet meeting, which would add 400,000 sq ft of new Grade A office space to the commercial district’s now ‘virtually exhausted’ supply.

Cabinet members are being asked to approve remediation works to kick start the project, which would be developed with Kier Property and CTP.

According to the council, Grade B/B* office space represents the mainstay of the district and in 2017 accounted for 97% of transactions and 97% of total take-up.

The SRF will also look to encompass other future projects, such as £100m of new road infrastructure at the district’s northern fringe, the new cruise terminal at Princes Dock and plans for a neighbouring hotel scheme.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson says: “This is a vital 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 I look forward to Arup and the team providing an approach that addresses these challenges in a way that will underpin the future of one our major employment zones.”

Garry Banks, Arup director and Liverpool office leader, adds: “The team we have brought together to deliver this strategically important piece of work has a long and successful track record of working in the city. This project must enable the proactive development of the commercial district in a strategic and cohesive way and must connect the district, not just to emerging areas but to existing neighbourhoods to help the continued enhancement of Liverpool city centre.

“Working with all partners and stakeholders we will deliver an SRF that will support the creation of a vibrant and successful commercial district that can help attract the high value, high skill jobs that will support the city and wider city region growth objectives.

“Liverpool’s Commercial District is like no other in the UK due to its heritage and world famous waterfront; this SRF will build on this unique proposition.”

The first draft of the commercial district SRF is expected to be produced by December, with public consultation to be held later in the new year following cabinet approval.

A draft document will then be considered for formal adoption as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) so that it would constitute a material consideration for planning purposes alongside the new Local Plan once formally adopted.