Place North West – Charlie Schouten

Liverpool endorses 2m sq ft office masterplan

The city council has signed off plans to help build a “world class” commercial business district at the heart of Liverpool in an attempt to tackle a shortfall of offices.

The strategic regeneration framework for the commercial business district, which was endorsed by the council’s cabinet today, identifies the need for as much as 2m sq ft of offices over the Local Plan period, which runs to 2033.

Under the SRF, any proposals for anything other than offices or commercial space on these plots is likely to be resisted by the council. The SRF area covers from Mann Island in the south, heading up to Brook Street and Princes Dock to the north, and taking in areas such as Old Hall Street, Chapel Street, Dale Street, Tithebarn Street, and the waterfront.

Drawn up by Arup, architect Shedkm, Worthington Owen, and heritage consultant Rob Burns, has identified a number of sites for potential development. The council jointly commissioned the SRF alongside the Liverpool BID.

The SRF argued there had been “falling stock levels and a lack of any new Grade A office space” since the delivery of No4 St Paul’s Square. The report also flagged the lack of larger floor plates in the city, with most corporate occupiers requiring floor plates of around 15,000 sq ft.

“The city is now in desperate need of high quality offices to not only accommodate the growth of its existing occupier base but perhaps more importantly enable it to secure footloose occupier requirements and therefore grow as a commercial centre and become known as a national leader in office attractiveness,” said the SRF.

In an attempt to help address the shortfall, the framework shows 12 sites that could provide additional commercial development. These include Princes Dock, which has outline planning consent for 615,000 sq ft of offices, and the King Edward Triangle, while also has outline consent for 918,000 sq ft of commercial space.

Elsewhere, the Seat dealership on Leeds Street has been identified to house a mid-to-high rise commercial office scheme; within the CBD, the Rumford Street car park, and a plot next to Moorfields station have also been identified for offices.

A vacant plot off North Street has also been flagged as a development opportunity, along with the former Trinity Mirror printing room and car park on Brook Street, and the Court Building on Derby Square.
Existing buildings and developments have also been earmarked for offices; these include the Bank of England building on Castle Street; Beetham Court, a 12,000 sq ft office on Tithebarn Street; the 180,000 sq ft BT Building on Old Leeds Street; and the 83,000 sq ft Imperial Court on Exchange Street East.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “To be a world class business location a city needs a commercial district that can offer opportunity, flexibility, connectivity and quality – in its buildings and its streets.
“The supply of Grade A office space is critical to attracting major investors and jobs and this Spatial Regeneration Framework will underpin our long-term vision to deliver that.

“This SRF shows that Liverpool’s potential is huge. All the ingredients are there to transform our ambitions into reality. We must now maximise every opportunity to ensure our commercial district fulfils its role as a major engine in the Liverpool Powerhouse and UK economy.”