Liverpool’s economic potential: The importance of aspirational housing
As the Liverpool City Region strives to fulfill its huge economic potential, Your Move asks how vital is it for the area’s aspirational housing options to match up to its lofty ambitions.
Words by Lawrence Saunders
World famous architecture, seven free museums, more listed parks than any UK city outside London and numerous major regeneration projects in the pipeline… Liverpool has plenty going for it.
Whilst Liverpool’s housing offer is also undoubtedly strong though, it’s possible the city could benefit from a greater number of truly top-end choices.
Whether the availability of luxurious accommodation directly correlates with a city’s economic prosperity is open to debate, but if the Liverpool City Region wants to attract more up-and-coming businesses, the quality of life that people who work here can enjoy is no doubt a crucial piece of the puzzle.
Last July, the city’s emerging innovation hub Knowledge Quarter Liverpool beat off competition from Manchester and Leeds to secure the prized scalp of The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and its first centre of excellence outside of the capital.
And according to Colin Sinclair, chief executive of the 450-acre development site which is aiming to position itself as a world class hub for innovation, the city region’s housing options proved vital in convincing the RCP to choose Liverpool.
“The housing offer has been really important,” he says.
“We were lucky that there were one or two key people at the RCP who had been to the city region before and could not only see the huge transformation of the waterfront, but also the desirability of some of its residential locations.
“Whether its Wirral to the south or places like Crosby, Southport and Ormskirk to the north – they could see there are very nice places to live that you can commute into the city centre from.
“But equally, if you don’t want to commute you’ve got the Georgian Quarter with some quite stunning properties right in the heart of the Knowledge Quarter.”
Colin is keen to stress that it wasn’t just the existing housing stock that made a difference but the city region’s future residential plans.
“The RCP wanted to see that we are bringing forward new residential developments which satisfy everybody’s needs – not just executives who might move up from London, or the top academics and clinicians who might be attracted to the universities or the hospital,” he adds.
“What we are keen to do is get a balanced mix of residential which suits everyone who wants to live and work in the area.
“Living space in the Knowledge Quarter for young professionals and post-graduates is something we really need to focus on and make sure that we do far more than the run-of-the-mill student accommodation.
“We must provide good accommodation for people who want to live and work in this area right up to young families.”
One ambitious city centre scheme which its developer thinks will play an important role in increasing Liverpool’s attraction as a city to live and work in is Your Housing Group’s (YHG) Hive City Docks, which has edged closer to fruition in recent months.
Subject to planning consent, work on the proposed £48 million private rented sector (PRS) scheme at Princes Dock, part of Peel’s £5.5bn Liverpool Waters scheme, is expected to get underway later this year.
According to Stephen Haigh, executive director at YHG, luxury perks at the 31-storey development such as a 24-hour concierge service, a rooftop restaurant and a range of in-apartment technologies will be key in attracting what he sees as the city’s target audience.
“If Liverpool is to continue attracting highly skilled workers then the accommodation offer across the city has to appeal to its target audience – Generation Y (people born during 1980s and early 1990s) – and meet their exacting standards and requirements,” he says.
“We know from extensive research that Generation Y looks for specific characteristics when choosing their new home.
“If Liverpool is to continue attracting highly skilled workers then the accommodation offer across the city has to appeal to its target audience – Generation Y – and meet their exacting standards.”
“High on their list of priorities is the distance they need to travel from home to work, as is being close to local amenities and transport links. They also expect their chosen home to fit in with their upwardly mobile and very current lifestyles.
“We have worked hard trying to develop our Hive City Docks offer to ensure it’s right for Generation Y and we feel our in-apartment technology and beacon-based apps, alongside hotel-styled services such as room service and regular housekeeping, are there to aid customers rather than stifle.”
Elsewhere in Liverpool Waters, a soon to be built 34-storey tower is promising to bring New York-style living to the city’s famous waterfront.
Moda Living’s The Lexington, which was granted planning permission in September 2016, will be the tallest landmark within Peel’s multi-billion pound regeneration scheme and is set to include 304 flats alongside a residents’ lounge, gym, roof terrace and an indoor/outdoor cinema.
“It’s a really exciting time for Liverpool at the moment making it the perfect match for the Moda brand,” says Dan Brooks, director at Moda Living.
“We’ve picked a fantastic spot as it’s the first piece of the jigsaw for Liverpool Waters. Liverpool is a very forward thinking city, a place people look to when they want to know what the next best thing is.”
Developments like The Lexington, Hive City Docks and others such as Elliot Group’s recently approved £250m ‘triple towers’ Infinity scheme, which includes a luxury spa, gym and a pool, are a sign that Liverpool’s high-end residential options are on the up – potentially making the region a more attractive proposition for relocating businesses and staff.
“The number one question investors ask is about the availability of highly skilled workers and the ability to attract them to the city region,” says Ellen Cutler, director of investment at Invest Liverpool, which was set up to accelerate the city’s economic growth.
“Fortunately, Liverpool city centre is vibrant and exciting and is surrounded by an amazing region that offers an exceptional quality of life.
“Quality housing is an important component of that attraction so we are pleased to see so many new developments.”