Peel Seeks New Investment in China

The plans will improve waterfronts at Liverpool & Birkenhead.

Peel, the private real-estate company overseeing an ambitious project for the rejuvenation of Merseyside, is making significant progress in it’s pursuit of new investment. The Liverpool Daily Post spoke with Lyndsay Ashworth, the company’s development director, and reported that talks over potential Chinese funding are “well advanced.”

The extensive Liverpool and Wirral Waters project aims to regenerate 650 acres of unused dockland in Liverpool and Birkenhead, thus bringing a vibrant new business culture to both areas. A long-term plan, the Peel Waters initiative promises to build 25,000 new homes and create 40,000 jobs within a thirty to forty year timescale, helping re-establish Liverpool as a commercial powerhouse domestically and internationally.

After surviving many layers of bureaucracy, such as a Central Government Approval for planning permission granted in March, Peel now hopes to secure major investment for the plans by enticing eligible companies to pre-let certain buildings. When Airport City, an unrelated venture concerned with the expansion of Manchester Airport, secured Chinese investment earlier in the month, many worried that Liverpool power-brokers had failed to make the city attractive enough for potential investors and that the city was again in danger of flailing whilst other cities prosper. Councillor Richard Kemp, a prominent member of the Liberal Democrat opposition within Liverpool, was one such dissenting voice. “There’s clearly not enough being done,” the Councillor argued, “we’ve been talking to Shanghai in particular for years and I’m yet to see any tangible benefits for Liverpool.” 

However, Peel moved quickly to indicate that negotiations with Chinese partners over their £6bn flagship scheme are progressing well. Ashworth, speaking exclusively to the Post, stated that “we are well down the road but we are under confidentiality so I can’t go any further into that,” and also cautioned against rushing the project towards construction. “I would love to start next week but I can’t. We have a lot of detailed work in the planning process,” concluded the director.

The Peel Group has experience in handling such large-scale projects, as their work at Media City in Salford demonstrates. When, in 2004, the BBC signaled its intention to relocate many jobs to Manchester, Peel became major players in the project, overseeing until completion in 2011. Now, Media City is regarded as a commercial and practical success, having created more jobs, greater aesthetics, and improved transport links for a wide metropolitan area. It’s hoped that Peel will have a similar impact in Merseyside, centred around Liverpool and Birkenhead, yet encompassing whole swathes of the North West in a new age of prosperity.

The potential new funding, from China or elsewhere, is vital to the ultimate success of the project, and this latest news represents another milestone for Peel and Merseyside.