Liverpool sets out plan to combat dwindling office supply

As it looks to combat a shortfall in offices, the city council’s plan for the commercial district will head to public consultation, with the proposed framework identifying the need to deliver up to 2m sq ft of commercial space over the next decade.

Under the strategic regeneration framework for the commercial business district, the council, working with Arup, architect Shedkm, Worthington Owen, and heritage consultant Rob Burns, has identified a number of sites for potential development. The council has jointly commissioned the SRF with the Liverpool BID.

The SRF area covers an area from Mann Island in the south, heading up to Brook Street and Princes Dock to the north, and taking in areas such as Old Hall Street, Chapel Street, Dale Street, Tithebarn Street, and the waterfront.

The draft SRF shows 12 sites that could provide additional commercial development. These include Princes Dock, which has outline planning consent for 615,000 sq ft of offices, and the King Edward Triangle, while also has outline consent for 918,000 sq ft of commercial space.

Elsewhere, the Seat dealership on Leeds Street has been identified to house a mid-to-high rise commercial office scheme; within the CBD, the Rumford Street car park, and a plot next to Moorfields station have also been identified for offices.

A vacant plot off North Street has also been flagged as a development opportunity, along with the former Trinity Mirror printing room and car park on Brook Street, and the Court Building on Derby Square.

The draft SRF identifies the need for as much as 2m sq ft of offices over the Local Plan period, which runs to 2033. Under the SRF, any proposals for anything other than offices or commercial space on these plots is likely to be resisted by the council.

Existing buildings and developments have also been earmarked for offices; these include the Bank of England building on Castle Street; Beetham Court, a 12,000 sq ft office on Tithebarn Street; the 180,000 sq ft BT Building on Old Leeds Street; and the 83,000 sq ft Imperial Court on Exchange Street East.

The SRF argued there had been “falling stock levels and a lack of any new Grade A office space” since the delivery of No4 St Paul’s Square.

“The city is now in desperate need of high quality offices to not only accommodate the growth of its existing occupier base but perhaps more importantly enable it to secure footloose occupier requirements and therefore grow as a commercial centre and become known as a national leader in office attractiveness,” said the document.

The report also flagged the lack of larger floor plates in the city, with most corporate occupiers requiring floor plates of around 15,000 sq ft.

“With dwindling levels of supply, floorplates such as this are becoming increasingly rare and this potentially forms another barrier to the future success of the commercial core and the city’s ability to compete with other cities throughout the UK.”

Consultation events will be held on the SRF at the following dates and times:

  • Thursday 20 June, 10am-3pm, RIBA, Mann Island
  • Wednesday 26 June 2pm-7pm, One Fine Day, Old Hall Street
  • Monday 1 July, 10am-3pm, One Fine Day, Old Street
  • Wednesday 10 July, 2pm-7pm, RIBA, Mann Island

Upcoming developments include Kier Property and CTP’s plans for a £200m commercial scheme at Pall Mall, set to provide up to 400,000 sq ft of offices. Liverpool City Council’s cabinet will look to sign off the consultation at a meeting on Friday 7 June.

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’s project lead, added: “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.”

Your Comments

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In any other city, the current dire situation would be a cause for resignations.

2m sq ft over 10 years, representing a standing still versus the potential the city had in 2011, is a pathetic target which shows how badly the city has been let down. No offices equals no jobs, and the economy has been so badly holed by what has been allowed to go on that it is an agglomeration victim, rather than beneficiary. That in turn has serious impact on the ability of the peripheral boroughs to attract and retain their share.

The GVA gap, including per person, between Liverpool and Manchester has never been wider than it is today, with the city still at recession level.

This is far too little, far too late, and our city deserves a proper strategy with proper targets, designed for the city rather than designed simply to give the impression those who have sat on their backsides for a decade are on it.

By Mike

Mike, nice one.

Great idea even if it is playing catch up, but how do all these extra people get in and out of the city centre?

By D

Incidentally, 2m sq ft was the originally determined office capacity of the wider Pall Mall site alone (

Hence this supposed strategy not so much a statement about office expansion, but a tacit admission that for some reason they have pre-determined to longer deliver this site to its proper potential with workspace. Were they ever going to at least inform the people of our city of this?

By Mike

Mike is spot on, this is very timid. The NorthWest and the North should be able to draw strength from multiple interconnected centres of growth and talent, but if those centres don’t have good strategies the forces of agglomeration will cause a tipping effect into the node with the critical mass / strongest assets / best strategy. That will end up being Manchester, with the winners curse of high house prices, gruesome commutes, a voracious appetite for transport infrastructure to keep the monster growing. Some will rightly turn round and see that as a success story given the hard years, but we’ll have created a mini London.

By Rich X

I agree with Rich X. A fast train between Liverpool, via Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester to Leeds would create an economic powerhouse to rival anywhere in Europe and support the failing towns en route. Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester, should be commutable in the same way that the Home Counties is to London.

By Elephant

It is about time we got rid the nimbys who oppose everything and be allowed to grow as a city. We have nimbys on one side and Manchester on the other and they are equally blocking our progress.

By Michael McMoaner

Joe has to go. This situation is on him. Imagine a retail park allowing pop-up ancillary development on its car parks then after a time wondering why biz was starting to struggle as a whole. It just wouldn’t happen yet in a similar vein this is what has happened with commercial space in Liverpool. Tourism and student growth is good, value added commercial investment is far far better.

By Nick

They need to be more ambitious this is what happens when amatuers are running the show. Spend the money where it is needed and for the projects who need it most and not on ones who have more than enough money and resources. “Build it and they will come” 2m sq ft over that amount of time is ridiculous for a city the size and ambitious that Liverpool is. What ever happened to SPQL?

By Liverpolitis

All we need is LFC


Liverpool is possibly the most world renowned and historic office district anywhere in the world! It was home to the world’s first office, the world’s first elevator, the world’s first type writer! We lead the world in office’s. It’s about time our leaders recognised this and made Liverpool into a world leading office district again!

By Mary Woolley

Come on kids, read the small print… 2m sq ft in the CBD… do youy know where the boundaries are? Have you bothered to look? Probably not. Factor in circa 3m sq ft consented in Liverpool Waters and a massive quantum in Paddington (going great guns), plus the wider Knowledge Quarter…. and you get the true picture of the City’s ambitions.

Too much small minded, poorly researched, knee jerk comments on this feed… it feels like Twitter!!

By P

I dread public consultation in Liverpool, the city-harming imbeciles will all crawl out from under their rocks now no doubt to avenge the phantom rabbits.

I do wish the city would just get on with things and stop asking people who are never fully informed or indeed have any desire to be informed what they think as they invariably always respond negatively, particularly the vocal minority.

By MMcDoomsayer

20 Chapel Street has empty offices ?

By ***

2 mill sqft over a decade, people of liverpool better start looking to move to another city if they want a job then…

By Anon

After the horse has bolted again from the Council, same as the Baltic masterplan 5 years too late. They know nothing about business nor their needs. The business district is tiny and would need other transport solutions than those that currently exist. Where is the big thinking in this city, certainly not in the LEP or BID? A lot of bluff and bluster and not much else.

By John Smith

Consultation for what? Wasting yet more valuable time. Its blatantly obvious what’s need, just do it!

By Craig

I despair sometimes with this site!
NOT because of the publishers, it’s a great site for details and information.
However those in Cumbria, Warrington, Cheshire, and Central Lancs…..and other places must also despair, as I do…to see CONSTANTLY… Mancs knock Liverpool, and Scousers devolve to history. NOT INTERESTED. Mike is clearly a Manc that loves Manchester…great….not interested!!!
Mary W…bless her; factually correct (was your dad an architect?….or was that another W???) but it doesn’t move the position on. This was one of placeNW’s longer items;.which deserves a more thoughtful response. Some tried; YNWA, one of the better ones…………… but whilst some started to look at ‘the meat’ of the issue, few did;…………………….
Pity all some can do is ….bash!!!!

By Billy

maybe they’re not bashing billy, maybe Liverpool just aint all that?

By Anonymous

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