There's been a lot of trumpeting of the success of Liverpool's Baltic Triangle area as a hotbed for creative and digital occupiers in the local press and on social media lately. The area has enjoyed significant public investment and, as a long-neglected industrial area of big brick warehouses in a public transport void outside the city centre, it has scrubbed up well. I love Camp & Furnace, a diverse self-proclaimed indoor festival site, and there are lots of happy tenants in the Baltic Creative business centre.
The big BUT for me is that the same plan followed in Baltic was applied in the 1990s to the Ropewalks area of Liverpool around Bold Street, Fleet Street, Wood Street. Now Ropewalks is better known for its noisy bars and endless spats between pub owners and residents above about anti-social behaviour than for its creative business base.
Urban Splash led the way in the Ropewalks area – its first ever schemes were on Concert Square. Splash's Tea Factory offices-over-bars project completed in 2000 in an old warehouse was an exemplar of urban regeneration in its day. Now it's a virtually empty hulk of a building and looking very sad. I've worked with many firms in there over the years from architects to advertising agencies; now all moved out to other parts of the city. Perhaps that says more about the changing fortunes of Urban Splash in the past decade than the glue holding Ropewalks together, but repeating the Ropewalks vision a mile away at Baltic, moving the magnet of publicly-subsidised business space from one area to another in an office market weak enough as it is, doesn't seem like great city planning to me.