£25m Maritime Knowledge Hub gets green light from Wirral Council

CGI of Maritime Knowledge Hub

Wirral Council has approved plans to build a world class maritime centre of excellence, focused on innovation, engineering, R&D, entrepreneurship and training at the heart of Peel L&P’s Wirral Waters scheme.

The announcement was made today (March 14) at MIPIM, the international property event in Cannes, France, by Richard Mawdsley, Peel L&P’s director of development for Wirral Waters.

The Maritime Knowledge Hub will be 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 that decarbonisation of the global $3trillion maritime sector brings.

The Hub will also include business accelerator space and conference facilities for both the marine sector and the local business community.

Designed by architects Ellis Williams Architects, the Maritime Knowledge Hub will be an architectural landmark and 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 and design team worked to maximise the sustainability of the project while retaining as much of the building’s original character as possible, complementing the iconic tower with the creation of a new four-storey extension to accommodate some of the country’s most famous and innovative maritime organisations.

The facility will be industry-led and will drive research and innovation by bringing education, businesses and government together within the maritime sector.

Support for the sector is critical to the economy – with a direct turnover of £55bn, and an overall economic impact of £116bn to the UK, the UK’s maritime sector contributes more than rail and aviation combined.

The 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 granted planning permission after the application was submitted in May 2022. Project partners include Peel L&P, Mersey Maritime, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Wirral Council, alongside a number of industry partners.

It is hoped that the project will be on site this year.

Maritime Minister, Baroness Vere, said: “The Maritime Knowledge Hub will be a crucial centre for collaboration, providing a huge boost for the Liverpool City Region, creating a new architectural landmark in Wirral, and supporting jobs and education. The hub demonstrates the huge potential of our maritime regions as engines of growth, and the ability of these clusters to galvanise action.”

Speaking from MIPIM in France, Richard Mawdsley, director of development for Wirral Waters at Peel L&P, said: “The Maritime Knowledge Hub is a really special project for so many reasons. It will continue the Wirral’s proud maritime heritage, create new jobs and economic growth for the Liverpool City Region, and it will also, through research and innovation, help the Wirral to be at the forefront of the creation of a decarbonised global maritime industry that is fit for a more sustainable and green future.

“Securing planning permission is a major step forward towards the delivery of the project and will galvanise progress with occupiers and our funding partners.”

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of trade organisation, Mersey Maritime, said: “Right from its inception, Mersey Maritime has been a passionate and determined supporter of the new Maritime Knowledge Hub project.

“We are delighted that a significant milestone in its evolution, confirmation of planning approval, has now been secured as this will be a decisive step on the journey to turn this concept into tangible bricks and mortar reality. The team at Wirral Waters and the wider partners involved in this project understand the potentially transformative impact it will have as a major component of the wider regeneration schemes at the Birkenhead docks.”

Cllr Tony Jones, chair of Wirral Council’s economy, regeneration and housing committee, said: “The maritime sector is vitally important to this region and the Maritime Knowledge Hub will play a crucial role in helping us supply the maritime specialists of the future, while also cementing our place at the forefront of this industry.”

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