Liverpool Strategic Futures panel ‘plants seeds’ for change
Rebooting Liverpool’s regeneration, including kickstarting stalled schemes, has been identified as one of the three priorities on Liverpool’s reform agenda by the panel charged with shaping the city’s long-term future.
Government commissioners were appointed to oversee certain authority functions in 2021 following a damning report that highlighted a “dysfunctional culture” at the city council.
The government intervention is part of the city council’s transformation journey. Part of this was the establishment of the Liverpool Strategic Futures Advisory Panel, chaired by Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram.
The panel – which also features Baroness Judith Blake, former leader of Leeds City Council and Sir Howard Bernstein, ex-chief executive of Manchester City Council – released its initial findings today at the University of Liverpool’s Vice-Chancellor’s Conference at the city’s Maritime Museum.
Following six months of engagement with more than 300 stakeholders, the panel has developed the outline of a reform agenda aimed at accelerating the city’s progress towards a brighter future, following a period of poor governance.
Three priority areas have been identified by the panel:
- Establishing a regeneration partnership to kickstart stalled projects and rejuvenate regeneration in the city
- Piloting an integrated, data-led approach to service delivery focused on multiple complex needs, with the potential to establish a first-of-its-kind Office for Public Service Innovation in the city region
- Ensuring the region capitalises on its strengths in life sciences, using the Investment Zone status to accelerate growth in the Knowledge Quarter and spread its benefits more widely.
The first point will be of particular interest to the region’s property industry. For years, stalled sites in Liverpool have blighted the city’s landscape and painted a negative picture of the city’s development scene.
In recent months, progress has been made in this area. Several high-profile stalled sites, including the Ovatus site on Old Hall Street and Legacie’s Heaps Mill, have been resurrected.
However, others remain, such as Elliot Group’s stalled Infinity scheme on Leeds Street.
In a bid to turbocharge the city’s regeneration, Rotheram said he would be “putting the squeeze” on government to provide the funding for the creation of a new public-private sector partnership to drive holistic development of the city centre.
“This report is a culmination of months of engagement and evidence gathering with the people who know our area best,” said Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.
“Those discussions gave us a much clearer picture of the direction local people believe the city is going in, and the areas where we need to steer the ship to keep things heading in the right direction.”
He added that the initial report “doesn’t claim to have all the answers”.
“At this stage, our priority is planting the seeds for leadership and supporting sustainable growth for the long-term, some of which we have already seen with new leadership at the council,” Rotheram added.
“Liverpool has all the ingredients of a fantastic, truly global city. Through the panel’s work, we want to help the city seize the major opportunities that lie ahead and ensure that all our residents can share in the benefits this will bring.”
The report states that “Liverpool is rightly regarded as one of Britain’s most dynamic and distinctive cities… yet economically, [it] punches below its weight.”
It also provides an analysis of Liverpool’s economy today, listing strengths like Liverpool’s tourism appeal, growing student population, and emerging life sciences and advanced manufacturing sectors.
However, it acknowledges that weaknesses remain, namely lagging productivity, low earnings, and an over-reliance on low productivity sectors.
The panel estimates £4.5bn a year could be added to Liverpool’s economy by raising productivity levels to the UK average.
Leader of Liverpool City Council, Cllr Liam Robinson, said: “In recent decades, there have been great strides in making Liverpool a fantastic place to live, work and visit. Now is the time to accelerate our work, moving it to the next level, making sure we deliver for all of our residents.”
The report has been approved by the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities Michael Gove.
Further detail of the reform agenda, and delivery milestones, will be the focus of the panel’s final growth strategy report next year.