Widnes site granted Freeport status as part of Liverpool City Region trading ambitions

CGI of the Widnes Freeport site

Liberty Park Widnes, an 18-acre site at Newstead Road in the South Liverpool area, has been granted Freeport status as part of Liverpool City Region Freeport.

Logistics expert, Logicor, and development manager, Stoford, announced the latest move in the freeport’s development after the entity was declared officially open on January 10, 2023, following approval of its full business case by Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove.

The Liverpool City Region Freeport is a designated area covering 45km, located in Birkenhead, St Helens and Widnes, where a range of economic incentives will be available, covering customs, business rates, planning, regeneration, innovation, trade and investment support, and employment opportunities.

Last month, SSO International in Haydock, St Helens, became the freeport’s first Customs Site Operator (CSO). A freeport customs site operator provides a secure, enclosed customs zone where some normal customs rules do not apply. Every freeport needs at least one approved CSO to be operational.

Centred on a mix of infrastructure, including the deep water container terminal at the Port of Liverpool – the UK’s biggest western facing port, which already handles 45% of trade from the US – it is the key coastal access point to the UK’s largest concentration of manufacturing.

Targeting key sectors including automotive, biomanufacturing/pharmaceutical, and maritime, the freeport will support and attract new manufacturing, logistics and low carbon energy industries.

Freeport status offers attractive incentives to new occupiers including five years’ business rate relief, three years’ employers National Insurance relief, structures and buildings allowances, enhanced capital allowances and stamp duty land tax relief. These incentives will create increased employment opportunities and regeneration for the local area, benefiting South Liverpool’s employment zone, with more than three million people living within 45 minutes’ drive.

Additionally, Logicor’s Liberty Park Widnes has achieved planning consent for two schemes at the development site to provide either one large 360,000 sq ft industrial/warehouse unit, or two smaller units of around 210,000 sq ft and 150,000 sq ft.

All options will offer two storey offices, ample power supply, EV charging, HGV and car parking and built to the highest standard targeting EPC A rating. The new high specification warehouse space will be available to occupy in the first quarter of 2024.

Tom Blakely, director, asset management at Logicor, said: “Achieving freeport status at Widnes brings great benefits to future occupiers of the site, including tax reliefs on importing and new employee wages, while encouraging investment and job creation into the local area.

“We are excited to work with Stoford as our development manager on this scheme and to be part of the wider local initiatives to bring investment and employment growth to the area.”

Liberty Park Widnes is strategically located at the junction of Speke Boulevard (A562) and Knowsley Expressway (A5300), providing direct access to the national motorway network via junction six of the M62 and junction one of the M57. Liverpool John Lennon Airport can also be accessed in just 14 minutes’ drive time and Liverpool Port is located within 12 miles of the site.

Angus Huntley, director at Stoford, said: “This project is an exciting opportunity to bring forward new, high quality logistics buildings in a strategically important location.

“Liberty Park Widnes has the potential to bring jobs and inward investment to an area that continues to rapidly develop. This is one of the only fully serviced sites of its size in the South Liverpool area, which benefits from excellent transport links and a willing workforce on the doorstep to fulfil any employment requirements.”

DTRE and Avison Young are retained as letting agents and Stoford is appointed as development manager.