The featured design above is a conceptual masterplan exploring the northward development of Liverpool city centre. The area today is a mixture of industrial space, new leisure and tourism venues and is also partly earmarked for a new creative district 10 streets.
But do these plans go far enough? Our design above deliberately includes the section of Liverpool's waterfront currently earmarked for the Liverpool Waters development - an arguably slow project that appears to have created more momentum in the areas around it rather than the project itself moving forward - whilst attempting to connect and 'knit' the exiting traditional core city centre more effectively to development north of Old Hall street in order to create a more organic development of the city centre northward.
Today, there are several projects including many high rise developments which are taking central Liverpool beyond Old Hall st and Leeds st but there still appears to be no coherent publicly available plan to ensure that Liverpool's North end is sensibly developed to ensure it reaches it's maximum potential as an expansion of the city centre.
Infrastructure & Connectivity
One key issue for Liverpool's north end is connectivity. Today, the area between Moorfields underground station and Sandhills is relatively poorly connected with minimal bus links and no rail links. It is my view that a new Merseyrail station should be created on the city's northern line where possible between Moorfields and Sandhills. Such a development would allow for the opening up this area more effectively. But does this go far enough? should Liverpool be looking to development a system similar to Manchester's Metrolink to ensure Liverpool Waters and the wider area can accommodate a potential influx of new, high density homes and offices or would something more ambitious again be needed?
London's Docklands Light Railway (DLR) could be one solution for connecting Liverpool's north end more effectively and could provide a new link across the entire length of the Liverpool Waterfront linking all it's new and established attractions in a similar way to the former Liverpool Overhead Railway.
There is also of course a more ambitious option to developing extensions to Liverpool's existing underground network, again taking a cue from London's Canary Wharf to create new underground stations across Liverpool Waters and is adjacent districts as part of perhaps a new line or a spur from the city's existing Wirral or Northern lines similar to London's Northern Line extension to Battersea & Nine Elms.
London's Nine Elms is a perfect example of the density and scale needed for Liverpool's north end but there is a need to ensure that the spread of development is affordable and sustainable to ensure the area develops in an open and inclusive way rather than creating yet another insular waterfront district - a negative consequence of Liverpool's southern dock's development in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
But far from being simple a forest of skyscrapers the north end of Liverpool could also provide a new entire district including homes and cultural facilities to further enhance Liverpool's already growing offering.
One possible idea currently being explored is the creation of a new city stadium muted as a future home for Everton Football Club or as part of a Liverpool Commonwealth Games bid which is also suggested in our design above. Would this be a suitable addition to the area? perhaps.
What is vitally important is that a strategy is developed to ensure that the entire area from Liverpool's Moorfields district heading North to Stanley Dock and Sandhills forms part of a masterplan to ensure that a sustainable and ambitious new extension of Liverpool city centre can be created. There needs to be a staged and amicable removal of large retail and industrial units that would be better suited to outlaying areas of the city where it is arguably more accessible and it is important that mothballed infrastructure such as the Waterloo and Victoria tunnels are given adequate provision for future development into potential new national and local rail links.
Fundamentally Liverpool's North end must include much needed Grade A office space, high density homes and new cultural and leisure facilities underpinned crucially by capital investment in infrastructure to open up the area effectively. This part of Liverpool has waited long enough for serious investment and has and immense amount of potential - it is up to the city to ensure that ambition and vision is the rule of thumb going forward.