Work is expected to start on site this year on a long-planned £20m Maritime Knowledge Hub, as architects vye to design the project which has been given a 2020 opening date by the partners behind the scheme.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has visited the site of the proposed centre of excellence for the maritime sector in Wirral Waters, which is currently subject of an architectural competition.
The £20m Maritime Knowledge Hub is set to open in 2020 in collaboration with the Mersey Maritime business organisation, Liverpool John Moores University, Wirral Council and Peel.
The Maritime Knowledge Hub will be focused on the grade two-listed Hydraulic Tower building, a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
It will provide up to 60,000 sq ft of business growth space, specialist teaching and training facilities for degree apprenticeships, innovation, and space for schools outreach and cultural activities, and will also provide the home for an offshore survival training centre.
The Maritime Hub was listed as one of several projects set to be supported by Liverpool City Region’s Single Investment Fund, which could see a total of £430m invested in schemes over five years.
Rotheram has pledged to fund offshore tidal and other energy infrastructure on an ambitious scale. He said the Maritime Knowledge Hub is part of this vision: “Clusters of vocational training, academic excellence and industry are crucial to developing our key growth sectors. This international centre of excellence at Wirral Waters will help drive the development of the city region’s marine & maritime sector and will support our ambition to be self-reliant on renewable energy by 2050.
“The centre is further evidence that we are aligning our economic, industrial and skills strategies in a way to deliver a step-change in growth and prosperity.”
Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, said: “This will be a real game-changer, not just for the maritime sector but for the whole city region economy.
“Our local maritime sector is an industry powerhouse, with recognised world-class expertise. We account for 13% of Merseyside’s annual GVA and employ more than 28,000 people.”
Cllr Phil Davies added that Wirral in particular has momentum in the sector, with Ørsted opening a £10m facility, Steam Marine Training choosing Wirral as its base and Cammell Laird continuing its renaissance.