A Strategic Investment Framework for Liverpool: A Comment From a Low Carbon Perspective

Post by Alex Nurse and Pete North

Yesterday, Liverpool Vision revealed a Strategic Investment Framework (SIF), which sets out Liverpool’s vision for the city centre for the next 15 years. The video above, produced by Liverpool Vision, outlines the main points of the SIF.

The city centre is identified in the report as being the engine for the city’s economic growth, the place of work for 100,000 people (45% of Liverpool’s jobs) and home to 32,000 people.  This is as well as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and playing host to numerous historic buildings and civic spaces.   Having been revitalised through the 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations, Liverpool now sets out its’ vision for how this process can continue.

Here, we seek to provide a short comment on how the Strategic Investment Framework meets the needs of a Low Carbon Liverpool, and where the city can strive for even greater improvements.

In particular we are pleased by the fact that low carbon is one of the four ‘core principles’ behind the strategy:

  • ‘Meeting our carbon reductions to make Liverpool a green city, whilst continuing to grow the economy, particularly around the environmental technology sector, putting climate change and renewable energy at its heart’ 

One of the other core principles is the desire to be ‘economically distinctive’.  We feel seeking out low carbon opportunities throughout the city and thus becoming an exemplar space for low carbon best practice is one way that Liverpool can achieve this aim.

Going further, within the report there are several proposals which we particularly welcome:

  • The plan to create ‘St George’s Plaza’:  A signature space for the city that creates a pedestrianised area, and revisits some of the traffic solutions in the area, including Lime Street, the Queens Square Bus Station and Hunter Street.
  • The acknowledgement that environmental sustainability is a key factor in attracting investors/filling office space. This is coupled with the development of energy and heat plans, as well as energy efficient retrofitting of city centre buildings to encourage businesses to invest in city centre office space.
  • The removal of the Hunter Street flyovers, and improved access for pedestrians, which could lead to street spaces that could rival La Ramblas in Barcelona.
  • The creation of a low carbon circular bus service that links the University areas with the City Centre.
  • The prioritisation of walking and cycling over vehicular activity across the majority of civic spaces across the city centre including Dale Street, Lime Street and the Strand.  The aim of being able to move – via walking or cycling – between the docks and Lime Street being the marker of success.
  • The extension of Liverpool’s Green Infrastructure Network into the city centre, with an increased number of trees.  This will also help to reduce the urban ‘heat sink’ effect.
  • Revitalising some of the city centre’s urban parks including St John’s Gardens and St James’ Gardens, bringing them into greater use.

However there are several aspects of the SIF, where we feel the city could go further in its ambition.  In particular, the Smart City ambitions, which currently focus on heat and energy are key issues for the city.  Yet the decision to postpone work on waste, health, transport and commerce until heat and energy work is complete risks leaving Liverpool behind competitor cities, both at home and internationally.  Instead, we encourage the city to adopt a whole world view of a smart city ensuring that Liverpool pushes itself to be a leading Low Carbon City and stays there.

In all, we particularly welcome the Strategic Investment Framework for the City Centre and recognise it as an excellent step towards creating a low carbon city.   We also look forward to working with the city to explore how this work can be expanded outwards towards the city as a whole, and these ambitions can benefit the city’s residents.

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