Ellis Williams is the architect behind the £25m Maritime Knowledge Hub. Credit: via planning documents

Plans in for £25m Maritime Knowledge Hub at Wirral Waters

Peel L&P wants to turn the grade two-listed hydraulic generating station in the Four Bridges quarter of East Float into a centre for maritime education and training.

Proposals for the Maritime Knowledge Hub were first announced in 2014. It was the subject of a design competition in 2018, which was won by Danish architect Schmidt Hammer Lassen and Liverpool-based Ellis Williams Architects.

The end product, which is credited to Ellis Williams in planning documents, would retain much of the 1868 hydraulic generating station, which sits on two acres west of Tower Road. It previously supplied power to Birkenhead Docks. The plans would demolish three extensions that were added to the building later.

Under the application submitted by Eden Planning & Development, Peel would work with partners Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Wirral Council and Mersey Maritime to turn the historic structure into the Maritime Knowledge Hub. Construction is set to begin in 2023.

The Maritime Knowledge Hub would include offices and workshop areas, a café, an event space and an exhibition area. It would be home to the Maritime Technology Centre and the Marine Simulation and Training Centre, with pontoons available to access the water’s edge and training ships.

While some of the office space proposed would be for start-ups, there is one section that is envisioned as a private office area that would have its own private roof terrace.

The proposals include 62 parking spaces, of which 10 would have access to EV charging points. There would also be two spaces designated for disabled parking and five cycle stands.

“This is a pioneering regeneration project which will offer so much to the UK’s maritime sector,” said Richard Mawdsley, director of development for Wirral Waters at Peel L&P.

“Wirral and the Liverpool City Region have a proud maritime heritage and the development of the Maritime Knowledge Hub will not only continue that heritage, but it also presents a fantastic opportunity for job creation and economic growth for the whole of the Liverpool City Region and beyond,” he said.

“The design of the Hub and the regeneration of the tower is very special with education, industry and culture at its very core. The tower is a very important local asset, full of history and heritage, and it’s only right that it takes centre stage of the Wirral Waters regeneration project.”

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, said his organisation had been pushing for the hub for more than a decade.

“Our commitment to it is resolute – it is really needed and now is the time to crack on with the work,” he said.

“This project speaks to the heart of the collaboration opportunities that drive our activity on a day-to-day basis and the timing couldn’t be better,” Shirling-Rooke continued.

“With decarbonisation firmly on the agenda, with the next stage of the Government’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition about to get underway, we look set to maximise the opportunity it represents. And crucially, the project will deliver thousands of well-paid and high-quality jobs where they are needed most.”

Liverpool-based Bcal is the landscape architect for the project. Hydrock is the MEP and sustainability consultant. Curtins is the engineer and Mel Morris Conservation is the heritage consultant. Gleeds is the cost consultant and Project Four is the safety consultant.

The application’s reference number with Wirral Council is APP/22/00937.

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By On the dock!

8 years from conception to planning – par for the course at Wirral Waters, I’d say. All said and done, however, it’s a cracking scheme and the training infrastructure is critically important. Maritime industries support almost 30,000 jobs locally.

By Sceptical

Who sucked all the cool Schmidt Hammer Lassen scandic architecture out of the scheme?!?!?! It looks more like something out of the governments school building programme…..

By Anonymous

What a depressing mess they’ve made of what could have been an amazing project…..

By Anonymous

Thus is a fantastic scheme and will be a real asset to the area. However, with fossil fuel vehicles on their way out should you not be planning for more than 10 (only 16% of the total) EB charging points?

By Andrew McCausland

Great scheme …but just as important the city council needs to get its finger out and build the long delayed cruise liner terminal.

By George

A fitting use for a historic maritime building .

By Anonymous

Although the previous proposal was quite cool, this current application is the sensible one. EWA did a great job of Gateshead’s Baltic Mill, I’m pretty sure they’ll do the same here.


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