Interim report by strategic futures panel sets out plans to rejuvenate city
Michael Gove has backed proposals to create a new partnership to oversee the wholesale regeneration of Liverpool.
The secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities promised to back the proposed body with government cash if the panel behind the suggestions produce a strong enough business case.
The recommendations were made in an interim report by the Liverpool Strategic Futures Advisory Panel, published earlier this week at the University of Liverpool’s vice-chancellor’s conference in the city.
Set up in the aftermath of the 2021 Caller Report, which delivered a damning assessment of the city council’s management of planning, highways, regeneration and property management, the panel includes Steve Rotherham, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Sir Howard Bernstein, former chief executive of Manchester City Council, and Baroness Judith Blake, former leader of Leeds City Council.
The trio found that Liverpool “punches below its weight” as a city, with productivity below the national average and lower than in similar-sized western European counterparts such as Lille and Bordeaux in France or Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
They said the city needed “sustained regeneration” to solve this and recommended the establishment of a new regeneration partnership to oversee a “holistic plan” for the city.
“The partnership’s mission would be simple – to unlock regeneration opportunities in partnership with the council,” they said.
“It would work to enhance and amplify the local authority vision, with LCC [Liverpool City Council] setting the strategic planning context through existing governance, with input from the partnership and suitably resourced.”
It said the formal responsibilities of the partnership would be set out in the panel’s final report, which is expected to be published next March.
The partnership’s responsibilities could include creating an overarching masterplan for the city, developing and marketing a pipeline of high-quality development opportunities and providing commercial and delivery assurances.
Liverpool’s ageing housing stock, one-third of which was built before 1919, was identified as an issue and the report said that regeneration in the north of the city in the traditionally deprived areas around Everton and Anfield had stalled.
Rotherham said the report was “just part of the solution to the puzzle” of revitalising Liverpool’s economy and added the priority was “planting the seeds for leadership”.
In a letter to the panel, Gove said he supported the recommendations set out and said that, subject to the production of business cases and Treasury agreement, his department would make capital funding available to the partnership.
“It is vital for restoring investor confidence that regeneration in Liverpool is ultimately delivered by a new private sector-led board on its own footing,” he said, setting out the conditions for his support.
“I ask that, as this partnership is set up, a full options analysis be undertaken by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and LCC, in consultation with the department, to consider the most appropriate vehicle for implementation.
“This should be completed according to criteria agreed with my officials and quantitative analysis undertaken must be consistent with DLUHC’s quality assurance principles.”