Against the backdrop of the difficult economic climate, it is no wonder that much of the UK property market is finding life tough at the moment. But Liverpool remains in an upbeat mood, and the new Mayor is helping to set the right tone.
For too long, there have been too many competing organisations in the city region, and further consolidation would be beneficial. There is now a clear strategy and a sharpened focus for the city, driven by the Mayor and his core team.
One of the biggest projects on the horizon for Liverpool is of course Peel's transformational Liverpool Waters scheme. If almost any other private sector organisation were involved, I would have stopped talking of the scheme long ago, convinced that it was nothing more than a fanciful marketing plan.
Thankfully, Peel has a resilience and resourcefulness that is second to none in the North West, and John Whittaker's vision and determination is truly exceptional. The Liverpool Enterprise Zone will help to kick-start the regeneration, but additional Government support is likely to be needed to push the project forward in the current climate. Look at how the public money that was committed to the Olympic Park has caused that area of London to be transformed – let's please have localised smaller scale support from central government for this transformational plan.
Along with Peel's grand scheme, continued smaller scale regeneration should be expected. My sense, which is backed up by discussions across the full range of our Deloitte client base, is that growth is returning, albeit at much lower levels that we would like. There will be continued investment, for example, in student housing and the discount retail sector where the Liverpool city region has the market leaders.
The new Strategic Investment Framework will help to keep regeneration high on the agenda and will act as a catalyst for a number of smaller schemes. At the SIF launch event, one commentator remarked that he expected to see "a flotilla of schemes", as compared to the grander plans which have helped re-shape the city over the past decade, notably Liverpool One and the Arena.
We will all have to work hard over the next few years to deliver the promise, but we can do so with a sense of purpose and unity. 2013 will not feel like prosperity has returned, but things are getting better.
- Sean Beech, partner, Deloitte North