The focus for Liverpool City Region is the future – that was the overwhelming message at Place North West’s latest event, where developers and local authorities gathered to discuss the state of the region’s market and how to position it for success.
Featuring opening remarks from Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, Merseyside Development Update provided its audience with a robust morning of analysis about how the area will be tackling current and future supply needs.
The event was sponsored by Tritax Symmetry, ClearFibre, Peel L&P, Fairhursts Design Group, Pegasus Group, and Curtins. It was held on 10 November at The Spine in Liverpool’s Paddington Village.
Place senior reporter Dan Whelan chaired the conference.
The future of Liverpool
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram set the tone for the day by advocating for true levelling up for the Liverpool City Region and discussing the ways the area may achieve it even without central government help.
Rotheram stated that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “Levelling Up” slogan had been just words.
“It was always about rhetoric,” Rotheram told the audience. “It was never about actuality. It was never about real things.”
If real levelling up had been the goal, Rotheram countered, the fix was easy: “Give us connectivity across the North”.
Another way to achieve it would be for central government to give more funding to local authorities to manage their own projects.
“We can do things better because we’re more nimble, we’re more focused,” Rotheram said. “We don’t need a monolith-like government deciding what happens here. They wouldn’t know the difference between Kirby and West Kirby. How can they know what’s best for us?”
Rotheram went on to describe the Liverpool City Region of the future. He noted the city of Liverpool’s improvement over the past few years.
“There is huge progress that’s been made, I think, due to the leadership of [Mayor] Joanne Anderson and the way the council is trying to focus on delivery,” he said. “You see that progress.”
Looking more broadly, he said that the region is focused on getting the infrastructure in place to enable growth. This means having ultrafast digital connectivity to improve the region’s appeal for tech companies. He noted that construction has begun on a £30m supercomputer centre at Sci-Tech Daresbury and that the area is already becoming known for its artificial intelligence work.
Down the line, he hopes a tidal energy project will come to fruition, which will help place Liverpool City Region as one of the world’s leaders in green energy.
“All of the world’s big companies say they need ultrafast speeds. They need a green form of energy. Well, we’ll have an abundance of green energy,” Rotheram said.
“Think about where that takes us. That is the strategic future of Liverpool City Region.”
Economic struggles equal opportunities
Colin Sinclair, chief executive of Sciontec, began the first panel discussion with a resounding agreement with Rotheram’s sentiments about Liverpool’s future – despite the current economic climate.
“It’s very easy to be downbeat at the moment,” he said. “A lot of the property people I talk to are talking of a two-year recession, but nobody really knows…
“But what is clear is whenever there’s a downturn, that accelerates change in property, regeneration, and business. I think the shift to health and life sciences, digital materials, chemistry, and all of the things that Steve has talked about and that we focus on here in the Knowledge Quarter is going to be accelerated.”
Sinclair added that this would be a huge opportunity for the region.
“I think Steve’s points are really important,” he said. “Liverpool’s strengths are actually going to be the strengths that will count in the future.”