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Liverpool Strategic Futures Panel Initiates Transformative Plans

December 1, 2023

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Article Summary

Liverpool
  • The government's appointment of commissioners in 2021 to oversee specific functions in response to a report highlighting a "dysfunctional culture" at the city council reflects a broader effort to transform Liverpool.

  • The creation of a regeneration partnership aims to jumpstart stalled projects and breathe new life into regeneration efforts across the city.

  • The panel estimates that raising productivity levels to the UK average could add £4.5 billion annually to Liverpool's economy.

Introduction

Revitalising Liverpool’s regeneration, a focal point on the city’s reform agenda, signifies a crucial step toward shaping its long-term trajectory. The government’s appointment of commissioners in 2021 to oversee specific functions in response to a report highlighting a “dysfunctional culture” at the city council reflects a broader effort to transform Liverpool. At the forefront of this transformation is the Liverpool Strategic Futures Advisory Panel, chaired by Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, tasked with charting a course for the city’s future.

Reform Agenda

After six months of extensive engagement with over 300 stakeholders, the panel, which includes Baroness Judith Blake and Sir Howard Bernstein, unveiled its initial findings. These findings form the basis of a reform agenda designed to expedite the city’s progress following a period of governance challenges. The panel identified three priority areas for immediate attention:

Regeneration Partnership: The creation of a regeneration partnership aims to jumpstart stalled projects and breathe new life into regeneration efforts across the city. For the property industry, this signals a potential turning point, addressing longstanding challenges associated with stalled development sites.

Data-Led Service Delivery: The panel proposes piloting an integrated, data-led approach to service delivery, focusing on complex needs. This initiative could potentially lead to the establishment of an innovative Office for Public Service Innovation in the city region, fostering efficiency and responsiveness in public services

Leveraging Life Sciences: Recognising the region’s strengths in life sciences, the panel emphasises the need to capitalise on this sector. The goal is to use Investment Zone status to fuel growth in the Knowledge Quarter and extend its benefits more widely, creating a dynamic ecosystem for innovation and economic development.

Of these priorities, the focus on a regeneration partnership is particularly significant for the local property industry. Stalled development sites have long been a concern, casting shadows on Liverpool’s urban landscape. Recent progress, including the resurrection of high-profile stalled sites like the Ovatus site on Old Hall Street and Legacie’s Heaps Mill, indicates positive momentum. However, challenges persist, exemplified by projects like Elliot Group’s stalled Infinity scheme on Leeds Street.

Liverpool’s growing stature

Mayor Rotheram, keen on accelerating regeneration, has expressed his intent to “put the squeeze” on the government for funding to establish a new public-private sector partnership. This partnership aims to drive holistic development in the city center, addressing longstanding issues associated with stalled projects.

While Mayor Rotheram acknowledges that the report does not claim to have all the answers, he emphasises that the immediate priority is to sow the seeds for leadership and support sustainable, long-term growth. Liverpool, with all the ingredients of a fantastic global city, is poised to seize major opportunities and ensure that all residents share in the benefits.

The report underscores Liverpool’s status as a dynamic and distinctive city, albeit one that economically punches below its weight. The strengths, including tourism appeal, a growing student population, and emerging sectors like life sciences and advanced manufacturing, are recognised. However, the report acknowledges weaknesses such as lagging productivity, low earnings, and an over-reliance on low-productivity sectors.

The panel estimates that raising productivity levels to the UK average could add £4.5 billion annually to Liverpool’s economy. Cllr Liam Robinson, Leader of Liverpool City Council, emphasises the need to accelerate work, taking Liverpool to the next level and ensuring delivery for all residents. The report, approved by Secretary of State Michael Gove, sets the stage for detailed discussions on the reform agenda and delivery milestones in the panel’s final growth strategy report expected next year. As Liverpool navigates this critical juncture, a collective effort to address challenges and leverage opportunities will be pivotal in shaping its future trajectory.

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