Manchester’s ‘Whitehall of the north’ deal shows Liverpool needs HS2, say campaigners
Liverpool is missing out on a huge investment opportunity if it fails to secure plans for its own high speed rail link up, it has been claimed.
The warning follows news that government tenants are in talks to take up to 430,000 sq ft of offices at the Mayfield regeneration site near Piccadilly Station in Manchester, close to the proposed high speed (HS2) station, scheduled to complete in 2026.
According to think-tank director Phillip Blond and campaigners for a direct High Speed rail link into Liverpool, news of the massive investment into the Manchester site proves the benefit of High Speed connectivity.
Mr Blond said: “If this happens it is a massive boost for Manchester city centre and its commercial economy. It would be a single deal equivalent to the entire volume of commercial offices let in Liverpool last year.
“The Mayfield project has been developed as part of an integrated City Region economic strategy and has been supported by all its authorities and public agencies. The same economic strategy has also underpinned Manchester’s case for both HS2 and HS3.
“We need to develop a similarly integrated approach in Liverpool City Region, and it’s why I agree with Mayor Anderson that a Metro-Mayor could provide us with the clout and coherence that we need to compete.”
The decision to relocate up to 430,000 sq ft of government offices to the Mayfield site, dubbed the “Whitehall of the North”, is another major boost to Manchester, which is at the heart of the proposed high speed network.
Regionally the Mayfield site has been seen as direct competition for the Pall Mall/Exchange Station area adjacent to Liverpool’s commercial district which has also been earmarked as an opportunity for civil service relocation.
The public policy think tank, ResPublica and business-led campaign group 20 Miles More believe the Manchester announcement underscores the competitive disadvantage that Liverpool will face unless it secures a direct link to HS2.
Independent pressure group 20 Miles More who launched Liverpool’s original public campaign for an HS2 link called the decision depressing and predictable, and its chair Andrew Morris said: “There is a similar opportunity in Liverpool at Pall Mall on the edge of our Commercial District which would probably be a more cost effective solution to Government Departments struggling under the burden of austerity.
“If we have similar assets and opportunities here, there must be another reason why yet again the investment is going to Manchester. Better connectivity must be a major part of the explanation.”