Plans submitted to regenerate Wirral’s proud maritime heritage

Published: 6 June 2022

Peel L&P has formally submitted a planning application to Wirral Council to build a £25m world class maritime centre of excellence focused on innovation, engineering, R&D, entrepreneurship and training within the heart of Wirral Waters.

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The proposed Maritime Knowledge Hub will be an architectural landmark providing a high-level industrial and maritime facility, supporting the region’s £5bn maritime ecosystem where research and innovation will focus on making the most of the incredible opportunities decarbonisation of the global $3trillion maritime sector brings. The plans also include business accelerator space and conference facilities for both the marine sector and business community. 

Designed by acclaimed architects Ellis Williams Architects, the Maritime Knowledge Hub is set to be one of the most important parts of the entire Wirral Waters regeneration project, which will drive economic growth and job creation to the Liverpool City Region and beyond. 

Set within the existing 19th century Hydraulic Tower building and Engine House, originally designed by Jesse Hartley’s son, John Bernard Hartley, as a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, the Maritime Knowledge Hub project will breathe new life into the building. 

The architects have retained as much of the building’s original character as possible, complementing the historical tower with the creation of a new 4 storey extension to accommodate some of the country’s most famous and innovative maritime organisations. The preservation and protection of the grade 2 listed structure has been integral to the design. The facility will be industry led and will drive research and innovation by bringing education, businesses and Government together within the UKs £50bn maritime sector. 

The world leading research and innovation within the Maritime Knowledge Hub will have a particular focus on the decarbonisation of the maritime industry as well as technology transfer from other industries. It will also bring education, employers and businesses together to drive innovation and research within the marine and maritime sectors. 

Wirral Council has been a core partner to the Maritime Knowledge Hub project from the outset and is working closely with the prospective tenants, Peel L&P, Mersey Maritime and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to enable the project to start construction in 2023. 

Richard Mawdsley, director of development for Wirral Waters at Peel L&P, said: “This is a pioneering regeneration project which will offer so much to the UK’s maritime sector. Wirral and the Liverpool City Region have a proud maritime heritage and the development of the Maritime Knowledge Hub will not only continue that heritage, but it also presents a fantastic opportunity for job creation and economic growth for the whole of the Liverpool City Region and beyond. 

“The design of the Hub and the regeneration of the tower is very special with education, industry and culture at its very core. The tower is a very important local asset, full of history and heritage, and it’s only right that it takes centre stage of the Wirral Waters regeneration project.” 

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, said: “The maritime industry, and Mersey Maritime as the organisation that brings us together in the region, have been championing this project for more than a decade. Our commitment to it is resolute – it is really needed and now is the time to crack on with the work. This project speaks to the heart of the collaboration opportunities that drive our activity on a day-to-day basis and the timing couldn’t be better. With decarbonisation firmly on the agenda, with the next stage of the Government’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition about to get underway, we look set to maximise the opportunity it represents. And crucially, the project will deliver thousands of well-paid and high-quality jobs where they are needed most.” 

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