The North West Development Agency has hired designers Gillespies, BDP and one other unknown agency to carry out a study into the concept of creating a riverside park stretching along the length of the Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal.
Richard Tracey, land regeneration manager at the NWDA, is coordinating the Mersey Parklands study, which will initially focus on the economic benefits such an environmental attraction could deliver to the North West.
The NWDA is also exploring landowner Peel Holdings' request to designate the 36-mile Ship Canal and its hinterland special planning status under its Ocean Gateway masterplan.
Peel owns the ship canal as well as substantial land holdings in the ports of Salford, Liverpool, Warrington and Ellesmere Port. The company revealed the Ocean Gateway vision last year in an effort to accelerate planning decisions for its many proposals along the waterway.
The next NWDA regional strategy, currently being compiled jointly with council leaders' forum 4NW before being published in 2010, is likely to include nominal support for the Ocean Gateway concept whilst stopping short of creating a special planning authority for the area.
Tracey was on annual leave when contacted this week.