The region's property industry is yet to fully respond to the opportunities of Liverpool 2, the £350m deep water container terminal being developed by Peel Ports, according to Mark Basnett of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.
When the new facility opens in the Mersey in 2015 it will open the port up to 95% of the global freight market, allowing larger ships to visit than can currently fit through the port's existing lock system, encouraging greater volume of imports into the North West for distribution across the UK.
The opportunity for new warehouse development is immense, according to Basnett, but a lack of available stock and 'oven-ready' sites means the industry will have to gear up significantly to meet demand.
Basnett said: "We are going to see a seismic shift in the way goods are moved around this country. We are about to change market conditions and I don't think the market has got it yet. We are going to see double the amount of boxes coming into Liverpool, this will bring huge demand for warehousing space.
"We're not just talking containers, it's FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods], bulk, fuels, grain, there will be business for consultants and freight forwarders, in addition to the end users. We are desperately short of oven ready sites and need to look at how we bring them forward, how we develop them.
"We have to make sure we have the right mix of property and land for Liverpool 2 and make sure we maximise the opportunities when our competitiveness is as high as ever."
Early next year Peel Ports will be speaking to those end users transporting goods via other routes, to encourage their use of Liverpool 2. It will be at that stage, said Stephen Carr, head of business development at Peel Ports, when the questions will be asked. "Customers will want to have the answers to questions about infrastructure and buildings."
He added: "Liverpool 2 will mean Liverpool connecting globally, a return to its heritage. Port centric development is not just about the port but it will add value to anyone within a 30-40 mile radius.
"There is a big opportunity coming to the North West, are you ready to take it?"
Basnett and Carr were speaking at Logistics & Manufacturing, hosted by Place North West at Hill Dickinson's head office in Liverpool.
At its peak before the recession there was 4.5m sq ft of shed space available, now there is reportedly less than 500,000 sq ft.
The North West's biggest current logistics development site is offering just those opportunities, according to Miller Development's director Jonathan Wallis. Take up at the 1.6m sq ft Omega North site has seen deals struck with Brakes, Hermes and Travis Perkins, leaving just two plots still available.
Part of a 575-acre masterplan to provide more than 20,000 jobs with both logistics and office space, Omega North's success comes down to the partnership of private developer, local authority, LEP and Homes & Communities Agency, which owns the land. With detailed planning consent achieved in five weeks, the LEP providing gap funding and the HCA agreeing to sell the freehold if required, the developer has been able to negotiate deals attractive to occupiers and investment funds.
Wallis said: "This is the best site in the North West. We know it has been a long time in coming but we are getting there.
"If it were not for the combination of public private partnership we would not be here we are. It's all very well for developers to talk about delivery, but to be able to follow through is key.
"Having ready development such as this is fundamental. Knowing everything is in place is music to an occupiers' ears."
Also speaking at the event were Jon Sleeman, director of logistics & industrial research, Jones Lang LaSalle; Peter Jeffery, chief executive, Logistics Support Services; John Roberts, planning solicitor, Hill Dickinson.
Logistics & Manufacturing 2013 was sponsored by Hill Dickinson, Omega Warrington Ltd, Jones Lang LaSalle, Peel Ports and SuperPort.