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Liverpool looking to define next chapter for its world-famous waterfront

Liverpool’s world-famous waterfront will be the focus of an ambitious new masterplan designed to ensure the city’s continued growth as a global destination and major economic engine.

A report to Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday (September 19th) seeks approval to begin the search for a team of planning and placemaking experts to prepare a strategy and masterplan to guide the waterfront’s development over the next 10-15 years.

With the multi-billion-pound development of Liverpool ONE, as well as major upgrades to the Royal Albert Dock, Pier Head, and Kings Dock, including the creation of an award-winning arena and conference centre, a cruise liner terminal, and the new Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool’s waterfront has changed dramatically in recent decades.

The city’s attractions now draw millions of new visitors every year and have enabled it to host major international events, from the European Capital of Culture in 2008 to Eurovision in May this year. 

More major regeneration projects along the Mersey shoreline are expected to be completed in the coming years, most notably a potential significant housing scheme at Festival Gardens to the south of the city and Everton FC’s new football stadium at Bramley Moore Dock to the north.

Liverpool City Council is also nearing completion of the design and delivery strategy for the future development of Kings Dock, and National Museums Liverpool and Tate Liverpool are currently leading on regeneration projects at their Royal Albert Dock buildings, including the historic Canning Dock.

If the proposal is approved, the Council will hold a tender to hire “an exceptional team with outstanding expertise at an international level” later this year.

A key task will be to inform the strategy and masterplan through significant and meaningful engagement with key stakeholders such as the Waterfront BID, the Canal and River Trust, and major landowners such as Grosvenor and Peel Land and Property.

While Liverpool’s waterfront is a thriving city destination, there are issues of inequality and deprivation in neighbouring neighbourhoods, as well as disparities in the demographics of the wards along and adjacent to the waterfront.

In addition, there are key challenges and opportunities around maximising investment opportunities, connectivity and linkages – north/ south and west/east, public realm and quality of place, conservation and enhancement of the natural and historic environment, as well as climate change and the city’s ambition to deliver net zero by 2030. 

The waterfront strategy and masterplan will have seven defining aims, that:

  1. Maximises the waterfront’s contribution to the city and city region’s economy and sustainable development
  2. Maximises the benefits of investment along the waterfront for adjacent neighbourhoods
  3. Enhances connectivity along the waterfront, east-west links, and active travel, ensuring fully inclusive access, enhanced connections between key areas of activity along the waterfront and supporting healthier lifestyle choices 
  4. Delivers excellence in quality of place and urban design
  5. Delivers sustainable, creative and innovative solutions to addressing the impact of climate change.
  6. Identifies key Infrastructure needed to support the regeneration of the waterfront
  7. Considers measures for enhancing linkages/ permeability/legibility, including public realm, public art, way marking, environmental improvements, green infrastructure to create a sense of place along the waterfront.

In respect of public art, a ‘City Centre and Waterfront Public Art Strategy’ will be scoped out and will be closely aligned with the preparation of the waterfront strategy. Major family-friendly events such as the upcoming River of Light arts festival are seen as a key element in providing an all-year round offer.

It is intended that the final waterfront masterplan will be taken forward for adoption as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

This SPD would be informed by Liverpool’s Local Plan, which was adopted in 2022, and will complement surrounding masterplans that are being used to guide the development of neighbouring areas such as the city’s Commercial District and Baltic Quarter.


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