Peel won’t jump gun on offices at Liverpool Waters
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.
“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.