Peel to follow up investment talks ‘next year’

Peel has returned from the World Expo in Shanghai and said it will be engaging with one or more potential Chinese investors in 2011 for its mixed-use development of Liverpool and Wirral docklands.

Peel submitted plans for its 14m sq ft Liverpool Waters project, a mixed-use transformation of 150 acres of derelict dockland north of the city, five weeks before the Expo ended on Sunday 31 October.

Planning for its sister scheme, the 18m sq ft Wirral Waters on the opposite side of the River Mersey, was approved by the local authority in August and is currently waiting on a decision from central Government on whether a public inquiry is required.

The two schemes, known as Peel Waters, will cost a combined total of £10bn.

 John Whittaker in ShanghaiAs the biggest private sector sponsor of the Liverpool pavilion, the only city in the UK that had a dedicated pavilion at the Expo between May and October, Peel has spent six months in China making contact with potential investors for both schemes.

In a statement, the company said: "Peel are working with many contacts to source investment in China but also partnerships with companies. We are making steady progress, and the fact that we sponsored Liverpool pavilion at the Expo has meant a lot to the Chinese Government.

"Next year, as part of our plans to carry the Expo momentum forward, we will continue working with our contacts with a view to engaging with one or more in either joint venture or consortium basis on either Liverpool or Wirral Waters projects. Before any contracts can be signed, we do need to ensure planning permission is in place for both projects."

Peel added that a "memoranda of understanding" was signed back in May with one Chinese company but said it was very common in China "to do business" by being "friends first, and partners later".

Several Chinese investors have also travelled to Peel's head office at the Trafford Centre to discuss all parts of the company.

John Whittaker, chairman of Peel, who normally keeps a low profile, was also photographed at the World Expo in August discussing plans for development along the Mersey with Consul General for Manchester, Ni Jian.

Peel originally proposed a bigger scheme for Liverpool Waters four years ago but reduced its design proposals following talks with English Heritage, CABE and Liverpool City Council about the size of its buildings.

A 55-storey Shanghai Tower, located between the City Lofts and multi-storey car park in Princes Dock, had been reduced from 60 storeys but will be the tallest building outside London if built. The rest of the buildings within the Liverpool scheme will be restricted to 15 storeys.

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