£15m combined authority loan will help create hundreds of jobs

Steve Rotheram

A £15.5m loan by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is expected to lead to the creation of nearly 1,000 jobs.

The boost, confirmed by city region Mayor, Steve Rotheram, will enable the transformation of the former drinks company Halewood International headquarters in the Huyton district of Knowsley.

Network Space, which acquired the 44,000 sq m Sovereign Distillery site when Halewood International relocated its HQ in August 2020, will create a multi-let industrial estate aimed at light industrial, logistics and SME occupiers.

Combined authority funding for the project is made up of a £6.75m loan from the Liverpool City Region Urban Development Fund (UDF) and £8.7m from the Chrysalis Fund, which is managed on behalf of the combined authority by Igloo Investment Management.

Mayor Rotheram said: “Devolution is all about making sure that important decisions affect our region are taken locally by people who live in and understand the needs of our area. It means we can ensure that every pound we spend goes toward projects that will make a tangible difference to the lives of the 1.6 million people who call it home.

“Investing in a project like this, which will create almost 1,000 jobs for local people and bring this site back into use, really is a no brainer.

“It will give a big boost to Knowsley and the wider city region economy, and the returns it will generate means that we’ll be able to reap the rewards and reinvest in new projects.”

Cllr Janette Williamson, portfolio holder for inclusive growth, said: “Our aim as a combined authority is to create the circumstances for our economy to grow and provide good quality jobs for local people. Providing this investment, which will come back to us with interest, we will do just that, and should help create nearly 1,000 jobs for local people.

“Repurposing the existing buildings wherever possible and using a range of low carbon technologies in their refurbishment will also save over 2,000 tonnes of carbon, compared with knocking it all down and rebuilding. This is the kind of sustainable development we should be supporting as a combined authority.”

Dan Adamson, group finance director for Network Space, said: “This is a strategically important site. Repurposing existing buildings, alongside the delivery of new, energy-efficient units, is a complex process so it was important for Network Space to work with a funder which understands and supports what we’re trying to achieve.

“Liverpool City Region, with its focus on delivering jobs, inward investment and economic growth, is a perfect partner. We look forward to delivering a sustainable development that will regenerate this area of Knowsley and deliver a thriving business destination offering a wide variety of high quality workspace.”

Robert Wood, investment director, Igloo Investment Management, said: “This is the single largest investment the combined authority UDF funds have jointly made to date and in part, that is evidence of the significance of the regeneration of the site to the city region.

“The lending secures a commercial return for the combined authority, reinvigorates a redundant facility with substantial employment opportunities and will generate new rates revenue for Knowsley Borough Council. It’s a great example of a ‘win/win’ for both the public and private sector.”

Cllr Graham Morgan, leader of Knowsley Council, said: “This funding will help to accelerate the repurposing of this site into a multi-let industrial estate which will not only bring an empty space back into use, but it will also provide exactly the type of space that businesses are currently seeking. This will ultimately lead to job creation for local people, and the further strengthening of the local economy.”

The repurposing proposals will be undertaken in two phases – the planning application for Phase 1 has already been submitted and is due for determination in the next couple of months with Phase 2 planning expected to be submitted in early 2023.

The LCR Urban Development Fund is a £25m fund managed under the combined authority’s Strategic Investment Fund framework. The fund is backed by the 2014-2020 ERDF England Operational Programme and it is a new funding route to foster smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for the Liverpool City Region.

Chrysalis is a £35m, revolving fund that is part of the combined authority’s Strategic Investment Fund and is focused on contributing to the city region’s growth plan. It is managed on behalf of the combined authority by Igloo Investment Management. Chrysalis is supported by the 2007-2013 European Regional Development Fund for the North West, under the Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA) programme.