Birkenhead Docks maritime hub primed for go-ahead

A £23m Maritime Knowledge Hub close to Birkenhead waterfront is gearing up to submit a planning application to the local council, to enable construction of the 60,000 sq ft facility to start next year.

First announced at maritime industry expo London Shipping Week six years ago, the Peel L&P-led MKH project at is intended to provide a national base for marine engineering research and development, as well as skills training and business accelerator space.

The centre would be built around the grade two-listed 19th century hydraulic tower building – a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, close to the Birkenhead waterfront at Peel L&P’s Wirral Waters mixed-use scheme.

The project is being delivered by developer Peel alongside Wirral Council and industry body Mersey Maritime and is expected to create 4,000 jobs in its first five years, the partners said.

Funding is in place for the project, they added, and details of a second phase of the project are to be announced by Liverpool City Region leaders at the second annual Maritime Exchange conference this Thursday.

The exchange initiative was set up last year to respond to the Government’s Maritime 2050 report, which sets out a long-term strategy for the UK’s maritime sector, which in Merseyside is said to be worth £4m each year.

Construction of the R&D hub is targeted to commence in summer 2021 subject to planning permission and once a contractor is appointed.

The scheme was designed by Danish architect Schmidt Hammer Lassen and Liverpool-based Ellis Williams Architects. Under the plans, the existing listed hydraulic tower and engine house at the centre of the Wirral Waters site will be restored and a new-build extension built to act as a centre for marine enterprise, skills, and culture.

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, said: “This is a real breakthrough and could not come at a better time for the Liverpool City Region economy, which has taken such a hammering from the Covid-19 crisis.

“Over the past six years, our industry has made it their mission to ensure the Maritime Knowledge Hub becomes a reality. It is a project that answers so many of the challenges coastal communities are facing – of job creation, skills and levelling up.

“That is not to mention the opportunities the UK maritime industry has with the direction set in Maritime 2050 and, more recently, the Prime Minister’s announcement on the green agenda.”

He added that the maritime and logistics industry has played a significant role in supporting the local economy throughout 2020 – in particular, by aiding delivery pf the 95% of UK food, fuel and supplies that come to the country by sea.

“Our members have literally been helping to keep the lights on and the shelves stocked during the past few months, now they are ready to provide the engine of the city region’s recovery,” Shirling-Rooke said.

“The Maritime Knowledge Hub will be right at the heart of that. It will be a significant focus for the work that will propel the maritime industry forward in the years ahead – from focussing the industry on ‘green maritime’ to ensuring that we have a skilled workforce for the sector and can support for new business opportunities and an entrepreneurial spirit.”


Your Comments

Read our comments policy

If it benefits Liverpool it will go ahead. The reality is that it probably wont go ahead.

By Wirral wool

Extend Liverpool’s city centre via a bridge across the Mersey and break the status quo. We have got to get rid of the inferiority complex and make Liverpool great again.

By Michael McDonut

It’s good to see Liverpool’s left bank get its act together.

By Heswall

Why put what seems to be a glass box on top of a superb Grade Two listed building?

By Old Hack

Looks very smart – hope its executed well. Characterful Italianate Victorian meets cool Danish Modern.
Wirral Waters is looking by any standards to be one of the most exciting docks regeneration schemes in the country. Liverpool Waters projects, so far, have largely been deathly dull and insipid.


Well done everyone – this wil be a pivotal project for Wirral Waters and the wider City Region, with world-class architecture at its heart.

By Pete Swift


By L17

it would be a welcome change to see some money being spent outside of liverpool city centre for once.

By Anonymous

Great news. This scheme looks fantastic!

By Chris

Great project for Wirral and the City Region , 4000 jobs is impressive and not inclusive of construction we hope.
If the dockside residential schemes can get going as well the Birkenhead waterfront is going to have a lot of footfall, so how about extending the tram network at least in the immediate area, and improving the ferry service with a jetty over at Brunswick in Liverpool so people can commute in the fresh air in future.

By Anonymous

We are looking forward to this development and trust it will be the catalyst for future innovation and growth for the maritime sector in the LCR.

By Paul Bergin

When are we going to see the mega container ships at the tidal container terminal built years ago?.

By Anonymous

ASAP please.The tower is a very sad sight and has been so for many years.Emblematic of Birkenhead’s decline.

By John Nolan

It can’t start too soon. Birkenhead needs this type of investment, and job creation.
The people of Wirral need jobs and disposable income to support the retail and leisure industry.
We have a proud history of maritime activities, from shipbuilding and commerce.

By Gerard McDonnell

Great news for the whole of Liverpool, both sides of the river! Our great river gave birth to our city, and it’s wonderful to see we are playing to our strengths again. I love Wirral’s Palazzo Vecchio. It adds a bit of class to the whole thing.

By Red Squirrel

As usual, it wont see the light of day. They only care about Liverpool. Specifically Liverpool city centre.

By The real Heswall

Heard it all before, from Peel Holdings. Remember Rock Ferry esplanade and all the wonderful expensive plans that excited our children that never came to fruition. We need a future for the young people, otherwise they will falter.

By Wirral fan

Why is it costing £ 23 million? And from where is Mersey Maritime getting this money?

By block

Related Articles

Sign up to receive the Place Daily Briefing

Join more than 13,000 property professionals and receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox


Join more than 13,000 property professionals and sign up to receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

"*" indicates required fields

Your Job Field*
Other regional Publications - select below