Peel William Jessup House June 2019
Plans for a 70,000 sq ft office were approved in 2019 but construction has yet to start

Peel won’t jump gun on offices at Liverpool Waters 

Dan Whelan

The developer is in discussions with potential occupiers at its £5bn waterfront masterplan but has ruled out speculative development. 

Despite Liverpool’s much-talked-about shortage of grade-A office space, Peel L&P said it would resist the temptation to build any of the 3.4m sq ft of offices approved under the scheme’s outline consent, granted in 2013. 

Avison Young’s most recent Big Nine report found that Liverpool had a pipeline of just 160,000 sq ft of new-build city centre office space, the lowest figure among the nine UK cities surveyed.

“There is a question mark about the impact of Covid on the office market,” said Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters development director Chris Capes. “A lot of people are waiting to see what the situation is.”  

As well as outline consent for more than 3m sq ft of offices, Peel L&P has full planning consent for a 70,000 sq ft development at Princes Dock, one of five neighbourhoods within the 150-acre Liverpool Waters masterplan.

However, construction of the six-storey scheme, situated on plot A03 next to Moda’s 34-storey Lexington residential tower, has not yet started – despite gaining approval from Liverpool City Council two years ago. 

Lexington Liverpool Waters

Moda’s Lexington is close to completion

“We tend not to speculate without a pre-signed tenant on board,” said Phil Jones, project manager for Liverpool Waters. 

However, across the Mersey at Peel’s Wirral Waters, the developer is building offices speculatively. In December, contractor GMI Construction started building Hythe, a 34,000 sq ft office block on Liverpool’s Tower Road South.

Despite Peel’s cautious approach to office development at Liverpool Waters, Capes said work is ongoing behind the scenes to attract occupiers to. “We are working to secure people for those future offices. We are keen that there is office take up at Liverpool Waters.”  

At Princes Dock, there is around 200,000 sq ft of existing office space that Peel owns and manages. 

The buildings remain around 97% let, despite the impact of the pandemic on the office market, according to the company. “The businesses that were here at the start of Covid are still here now,” Capes said. 

Peel, which bought the 150-acre Liverpool Waters development site from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company in 2006, has instructed Worthington Owen and Avison Young as office agents for the scheme. 

As well as offices, the 30-year redevelopment project is to feature 9,000 homes, hotels, a new cruise liner terminal, and the Isle of Man Ferry Terminal, which is now under construction. 

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Hopefully they can get an anchor tenant. It seems a critical time for Liverpool, and indeed the North West, for office take-up as we start to come out of COVID restrictions. I personally still think offices will be needed, though clearly though people will be working remotely as well.

By Chris

Peel seem to want other people to take the risk while they retain the freehold of the land, I think the 16 storey Plaza building is their only speculative venture so far.
It`s surprising that for a company with all the contacts in government they have been so slow attracting occupants to the project.
It has been scaled down a lot since it was originally announced so surely can`t be anywhere near a £5billion scheme any longer.

By Anonymous

Speculative development is definitely an incentive for possible companies, i think it’s a mistake to wait for occupiers to commit first. Even factoring in the Covid effect Liverpool still has a desperate lack of grade A supply available or in development. For such a huge masterplan such as LW has to not build speculatively seems a little silly. It may take generations to complete the whole development if they continue to take this stance?

By Cristoforo

Peel are blah blah blah when it comes to so-called Liverpool Waters. Their interests lie in Salford.

By Jack

Peel never jump the gun anywhere, they wait for the public sector to do that for them.

By Oscar

Peel are no Liverpool Corporation. Given the scale of the land they own, their select profit imperative needs to be balanced against the city’s needs.

It’s clear that developers can make much more profit from residential in Liverpool at the moment. That does not mean that commercial is unprofitable, just that the market is so unbalanced that it doesn’t get a look in.

We need a Liverpool Corporation. And Peel needs to be give some of the land up.

By Jeff

Ive read the Avison Young report and it makes grim reading for Liverpool. If other cities are building and some even have a glut of grade A offices, it seems to be one factor that has attracted high tech and high value jobs in particular. I just don’t understand this stance at all

By anonyomous

Princes Dock or Gibraltar Row would be the ideal site for a speculative high rise grade A office building , being very near two underground Merseyrail stations ie James St and Moorfields, in order to transport people into work, meanwhile being on such an iconic waterfront should be a no-brainer.

By Anonymous

Peel understand the market. Offices are not right for Liverpool, its a tourist city. Let commerce be done elsewhere, we have a waterfront and that’s all we need.

By Anonymous

“If you build it, they will come”

By K Costner

When is this authority going to realise that vandalising the waterfront continues to feed corruption and erode public trust?

By Kenneth Halligan