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Greater Manchester Doubtful Over Peel's Atlantic Gateway

The regional authorities need convincing over Wirral Waters and Liverpool Waters schemes

Published on February 27th 2012.

Greater Manchester Doubtful Over Peel's Atlantic Gateway


GREATER Manchester Combined Authority is likely to vote against a proposal by the new Atlantic Gateway Board to prioritise Liverpool and Wirral Waters (the latter pictured above) as major projects for economic growth, unless there is more 'robust evidence' in their favour.

"It will work constructively with the scheme sponsors and the Atlantic Gateway Board to test the information and the evidence base to establish whether Wirral and Liverpool Waters should be identified as projects of more than sub-regional significance, and thus major projects for Atlantic Gateway to support."

A paper put to the executive board meeting of the GM Combined Authority in Oldham was written by Mike Emmerich, chief executive of GM policy think-tank New Economy, and Barbara Spicer, chief executive of Salford City Council. The pair responded to a request from the Atlantic Gateway Board to elevate Peel Group's Liverpool and Wirral Waters as 'major projects' within Atlantic Gateway.

The Atlantic Gateway Board is a public-private group made up of local authority officers, councillors, private sector advisors, and chaired by former Manchester Airport boss Geoff Muirhead.

The board, which includes representatives from Greater Manchester, was formed in late 2011 to promote large infrastructure and innovation projects (see below for list of board members) planned for the area around the River Mersey, Manchester Ship Canal and hinterland. Many but not all of the projects are proposed by Peel Group. Others promoted include Daresbury Science & Innovation Campus and Northern Hub rail expansion.

Emmerich and Spicer recommend that "the [GM] Combined Authority does not support [Peel's] Wirral and Liverpool Waters schemes as priority projects for Atlantic Gateway until it can be satisfied" on three points.

The points are:

a) There is a robust evidence base to confirm market demand for such a significant amount of grade A commercial floor-space outside any city centre

b) It can be clearly demonstrated that the projects will deliver net added value to the region as a whole, across all three LEP areas

c) There is a clear deliverable investment plan in place that shows the level of private investment involved, and considers the costs and benefits of any public investment that may be required including infrastructure support

The report goes on: "The Combined Authority is concerned to ensure that at a time when public investment to support priorities is likely to be severely constrained, that the focus is on those projects which really can contribute to the region's GVA at the minimum cost to the public purse.

"It will work constructively with the scheme sponsors and the Atlantic Gateway Board to test the information and the evidence base to establish whether Wirral and Liverpool Waters should be identified as projects of more than sub-regional significance, and thus major projects for Atlantic Gateway to support."

Manchester City Council and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities have objected previously on similar economic grounds.

Liverpool Waters, currently pending planning and subject to opposition from English Heritage, would cover 150 acres of dockland north of the city centre. Wirral Waters has outline planning consent and envisages more than 6m sq ft of mixed-use development in Birkenhead docklands.

Peel declined to comment.

The board members of Atlantic Gateway are: 

  • Geoff Muirhead, private sector
  • Dennis Bate, private sector
  • John Downes, private sector
  • Peter Nears, private sector
  • Martin Douglas, private sector
  • Roger Milburn, private sector and Greater Manchester LEP
  • Steve O'Connor, private and Liverpool City Region LEP
  • Martin Ashcroft, private and Cheshire & Warrington LEP
  • Walter Menzies, voluntary sector - environmental representative
  • Cllr John Merry, public sector, Association of Greater Manchester Authorities
  • Cllr Rob Polhill , public sector, Liverpool City Region
  • Cllr Terry O'Neill , public sector - Cheshire and Warrington

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousFebruary 28th 2012.

Wonder what Bernstein & Co will make of this? Shock horror if Liverpool were to overtake Manchester to become England's "second" city eh? But then again arent the council so heavily indebted to the Peel Holdings they have to keep schtum on this matter? Oh dear what a pickle i can see ahead....

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 28th 2012.

Why would the Council be indebted to Peel Holdings? Most of Peel's land assets seem to lie in Salford, Trafford and westwards, out towards Liverpool.

DavidFebruary 28th 2012.

Atlantic Gateway is surely about encouraging development along the whole of the area from Liverpool to Manchester.Peel plan would only benefit one small part,in Liverpool.This would not be an appropriate use of any public sector funds,and Manchester is right to object.

There is no chance of Liverpool ever overtaking Manchester now.Manchester is a much more dynamic city,with a faster rising population.

Louise RamseyFebruary 28th 2012.

These are two of the most important developments in the UK not just the North West. The significant amount of foreign (Chinese) investment is unpresidented and this will be of great benefit to the whole UK. If the government supports this development it will send a clear signal that the UK is open for big business and big investment. If we block this type of project then it will be an unmitigated disaster for the UK. This is not about petty rivalry and I believe all those board members should put that aside and make the right decision.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidFebruary 28th 2012.

What is the evidence that there is such vast demand for office space in Liverpool,that justifies this going ahead?.

It's nonsense to suggest that these are two of the most important developments in the whole of the UK?.They are just important to you.

Stop pretending that is is Manchester acting against your City.They just dont recognise that these developments make economic sense.

AnonymousFebruary 29th 2012.

Peel have clearly unleashed their PR rep.

Investors don't invest in projects that don't have planning permission. Accordingly the only current investment interest is in a giant distribution shed on the Wirral side of the river. And that will most likely remain the limit of investor interest as much of the rest of the scheme is simply unviable.

Maybe I should buy up some cheap, derelict dock land somewhere else and turn a similar trick. Grimsby Waters anyone? Newcastle Waters?

Nothing against Liverpool, mind. A fine city. But do object to Peel Holdings assuming people are gullible enough to be taken in by their spiel; that a few pretty pictures are anything other than what they really represent - a cynical attempt to capture public funding, influence the planning process and ultimately increase the value of their land bank.

Andy MedinaFebruary 29th 2012.

Regardless of petty squabbling Manchester and Liverpool are two magnificent cities both jewels in the crown, not only of the North West, but the whole of the UK. They are a perfect complement to one another with different things to offer and with the added advantage of being right next door to each other and surrounded by some of the best countryside, history and amenities in the World. Wake up and smell the coffee, people!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 29th 2012.

Why are they both so damn poor then, pitiably reliant on public subsidy & jobs?
Neither are net contributors to the UK economy. And never mind these dock areas - why for such relatively tiny, yet supposedly booming "jewel in the crown" city centres, is there so much dereliction still around in both then?

tomegranateFebruary 29th 2012.

Both cities have major problems. That doesn't mean they don't have a lot going for them. You've got a very negative way of looking at things.

AnonymousMarch 1st 2012.

Re Anonymous, why so much dereliction in Tower Hamlets, in sight of Canary Wharf?
Why are neither Hackney or Newham net contributors to the national economy?

The answer is we live in a very unequal society and these inequalities manifest themselves spatially with concentrations of poverty in certain areas and concentrations of incredible wealth in others. Manchester and Liverpool are no different to London or any other city in this country in that respect.

Don't know about Liverpool but Manchester (i.e. the functional economic area, not the arbitrary local authority boundary) is in fact a net contributor to the national economy.

Calum McGFebruary 29th 2012.

Hear, hear, Andy! Anon: "Neither are net contributors to the UK economy." - can you please share your data to back this up?

AnonymousFebruary 29th 2012.

Clearly Manchester does not want Liverpool to grow based on this evidence, as for those who say where is the demand for this amount of office space since when was there a demand in Manchester for a Mediacity & a new port in Salford there has been none it is the case of "build and they will come".

The BBC has spent millions of taxpayers money just to move to Mediacity and support the scheme and then theres the port in Salford surely Manchester a industrial city with no seafront not famed for its ports has absolutely no need for it yet it is being built even though you find yourself at Seaforth and Ellesmere port before you even get close to Salford.

Liverpool as a city was once richer than London but successive governments & events have undermined this and put us at the bottom of the pile its time Liverpool went ambitious like it once was when it built the first wetdock in the world or the first skyscraper in the UK and became the second city of the Empire although i also understand Manchester and Birmingham also think they where the second city around those times.

At the end of the day Liverpool has Trade links with USA, China, Germany, Ireland & Norway strong links historically and present and these links will be at the forefront of Liverpool's Renaissance its time we went global and stopped looking at the smaller picture in the EU a declining and stagnating continent void of ambition and common sense.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidFebruary 29th 2012.

If you want reasons for your decline,look a bit closer to home.Look at the terrible industrial relations,militant run council,sectarianism,racism.But most of all your appalling self pity.It is never your fault,it's always everybody else's fault.

By the way how did you make your great wealth.Firstly you were a slave city.You made your money off the backs of misery of Africans?.You also made an easy living overcharging Lancashire cotton exports.Until of course you had competition from Manchester port.

The development at Media City was not a waste,because it actually had the BBC and other media companies who wanted to move there.People do not want to go Liverpool.Richard and Judy programme was moved from Albert Dock because nobody wanted to go to Liverpool.

Actually Manchester has been supportive of Liverpool,it fully backed your cities bid to be European City of Culture.However that does not mean it should back wasting huge amounts of public money on this development.

AnonymousMarch 3rd 2012.

The wealth was not through slavery at all your simply following the liberal elites and their speculation it has been estimated slavery accounted for about 5% of the British empires wealth very little indeed it was the trade of manufactured goods that accounted for 40% and 55% from the sugar, spices etc.

Have you not seen the tory polices of the 60 n 80s they described it as the managed decline of Liverpool as the second city with no Empire Liverpool suffered for trade that hit the port and manufacturers while Liverpool still held vast wealth in businesses most of its money was taken away during WW2 to London to help fund the war efforts so when it ended we had no backfall to support are industry and most of the rich moved south this is when the UK became a 1 race horse economy as it will forever remain as London has the money and controls the exchange rates that suite the London economy over northern ones.

Sectarianism was not Liverpool's it was government policy to put the Irish down and still to this day it is against the law to have a Catholic prime minister hence why tony blair was confirmed so after his term finished.

And as any body in Liverpool knows we have none now families have intermixed and are good mates with good banter.

Where as Manchester is a multicultural nightmare i seem to hear of Asian rape gangs from oldham & African gangs in mosside etc in your area effectively every other day Liverpool had its current stock of immigrants brought in over 300 years unlike the relative short period for other cities and so we have retained are culture and have virtually no racism just because of the overhyped Liverpool saga you seem to think where all racist.

Trust me the BBC did not want to move it was deemed not cost effective and is costing more to run the same services while others where being cut but was pushed through to support the scheme as Manchester is receiving so much government support in the last few decades to try and become their second city shows how much your up your own arse.

Public money how is Chinese investors wasting are money surely it stands to reason we are wasting theres if it does go horribly wrong as we all know only London has been allowed to build until about a decade ago so everyone else is disadvantaged in the UK so this levels the field.

Manchester support Liverpool so why are you now trying to steal are Gaming industry as we all know Manchester has no gaming developers worthy of note where as Liverpool is represented very well and recent biomedical developments when Liverpool is the most diverse bio medical centre in the UK and is planned to grow again back into the UK's largest Liverpool never tries to steal from Manchester's strengths shame you seem to disregard that and refrain from diversifying the UK economy by stealing existing markets neighbouring to you instead of going into other markets your more suited too.

And my last point Liverpool is voted Number 1 by tourists as friendly and best place to visit in UK its was voted the best nightlife in UK it has the fastest growing economy outside of London and it has the lowest living costs of any UK city and office space is the lowest in the UK at 20-30% lower than the next major competitor.

Liverpool also has the second largest wealth management in the UK, fastest growing airport travel in Europe, and it has a retention rate of 6 out 10 students staying in the city with the port of Liverpool being the largest freezone port in the UK it is also the first location of the Global entrepreneurship congress outside of the US in the world Manchester was not even shortlisted also the fact Liverpool has links to the world like no other city in the UK apart from London its never been capitalized on but it has the potential to be in the future Manchester is not recognized globally Liverpool is still more recognizable.

and your trying to tell me there is absolutely no market for this scheme is laughable to say it will fail when its being built over 40 years to ensure each building acquires tenants by the time the next one is finished the only problem Liverpool ever has is London owns the businesses that we need and they only ever support their southern city in the north Manchester never Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff, Newcastle or Belfast always Manchester biased to say the least when the other cities help us and we help them.

DjMarch 9th 2012.

To Anonymous - Am from Mid cheshire (south Manchester) and to your point about liverpool being richer than London and Manchester in the past, but do you know why? I'll tell you why, it was because of the major landowners and salt producers of Cheshire who made, what Liverpool is today. put that in your pipe and smoke it.

And why did they have Salford docks and the Manchester ship canal. Liverpool kept pushing up there prices in the holding warehouses to a point that it wasn't viable any more.

Let me tell you liverpool waters and media city phase 2 will only be built piecemeal - as in supply v demand thats why both will be phased in, so effectively both developments could end up being only a half or even a quarter built so lets not get to worked up about these schemes.

Iain ScottMarch 22nd 2012.

Blinkin flip!

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