Liverpool City Region: key projects to monitor
Liverpool City Region is on the up, but its success remains fragile. Inward investment has remained strong, even as Brexit approaches. Expect to see clues to whether Liverpool is catching up with Manchester emerging over the next year. If cherished projects like Liverpool Waterfront start to stumble, it will be a worrying sign.
These are some key areas to monitor:
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has been the driving force behind the Knowledge Quarter (KQ Liverpool). The 30 acre Paddington Village is a key scheme within it, and the first phase of development is already underway. Sensor City, which sits at the gatewaty to KQ Liverpool, is one of four flagship University Enterprise Zones. It’s a big deal.
The Knowledge Quarter is absolutely critical to Liverpool’s success as an innovative, world-class, high-tech centre. If it flies, it will pull in investment and kudos. If it hits the buffers, there is currently no Plan B.
Peel Ports’ Liverpool 2 scheme has suffered some minor delays, but is now progressing well. Liverpool 2 is a container terminal extension that aims to position the port as a major international player. Here it’s key to monitor not only the progress of the port itself but also the access to it. The notoriously poor condition of Dunnings Bridge Road, the main road access, could become a serious hindrance. Peel Ports will be looking to Liverpool Council for a fix.
The official line from Liverpool City Region is that Manchester is a Northern Powerhouse partner, not a competitor. The reality is a little more nuanced.
Liverpool undoubtedly has some catching up to do. It’s business networks are weaker than Manchester’s. Graduates are leaving Liverpool for other parts of the country, including Manchester. (“If graduates leave Liverpool for Manchester, it can’t be for the cultural offer,” jokes Liverpool City Region’s Mayor Steve Rotheram).
If Liverpool falls further behind Manchester as a centre for investment, or as an attractive location to live and work, serious concerns will be raised.
Marketing and branding
The Liverpool brand has won out over Merseyside, which – as a brand – is dead in the water. That doesn’t mean the City Region has everything sorted though. There remains considerable confusion over exactly who is responsible for marketing Liverpool, and what the brand needs to stand for.
There is a “Liverpool 4.0” brand based around high-tech manufacturing through digital innovation, derived from Industry 4.0, a buzz-phrase promoting the fourth industrial revolution. How the Liverpool brand becomes synonymous with innovation remains to be seen, as does the type of innovation. Progress with KQ Liverpool will give some important pointers.
Other brands such as Liverpool Waterfront and Wirral Waters jostle for attention under the Liverpool banner.
Across the world people have heard of Liverpool, and as a brand that already puts it head-and-shoulders above many others, such as West Midlands. Expect to see the City Region working to refine that brand further over the next couple of years.
The dream timetable for the GMSF will see it completed in under 30 months. How will that happen and what does it mean for Greater Manchester?
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