Liverpool City Council buys Kings Dock for the princely sum of £1

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The newly-rebranded M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool

As Liverpool City Council buys Kings Dock for a bank-breaking £1, Getintothis’ Chris Flack has a quick look at investing for the future and looking for value for money.

Not very long ago I had a conversation with a friend about regeneration, specifically about Toronto and the Rogers Centre, or the Skydome depending on how old you are.

The Skydome was built by the city, one of the first buildings below the Gardiner Expressway, built in what was a deserted wasteland that was home to abandoned trains and warehouses, the change has been remarkable.

The city centre has moved right to the water and the new neighbourhood has become a huge tourist attraction, the City sold the building recently for a pittance and there was outrage from all corners.

But here’s the thing, it did exactly what the city wanted it to.

You can argue about access, income, opportunity and the value of what these places are when they are sold on, but deals like the sale of the Skydome were better value than the city taking on the running of the space.

The transformation of the waterfront is textbook city investment, build one thing and let everyone else congregate around it, there are hotels, apartment complexes, Ripleys, Seaworld‘s, river cruises and idiots.

Their regeneration has been one that has been copied the world over, Liverpool has done similar with the Royal Albert Dock, the M&S Bank Arena and now it looks like that success story has a chance to grow just a little more.

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Kings Dock is set for a multi-million redevelopment and it has been bought for an absolute song.

Liverpool City Council is in the process of buying the better part of 55,000 sq metres of waterfront land at Kings Dock for the princely sum of just £1 from Homes England.

The Council has most of the land around the dock on a 999-year lease and so far it has been a huge success, they estimate the ACC site has pumped about £1.6bn into the city since 2008. As transformations go, the work on the block to create the arena and exhibition centre is a huge success story.

The plan for the dock is a multi-million redevelopment programme based on the 2017 Masterplan for the remainder of the empty plots on Kings Dock, the hope is it will become a leisure-based mixed-use destination.

Once the purchase is approved Council will seek expressions of interest from developers make decisions based on the earlier masterplan.

The Council owns much of the area that incorporates the ACC, including the M&S Bank Arena, the Convention Centre, the Exhibition Centre and the Pullman Hotel as well as those unused plots, one of which was the carpark that was destroyed by fire two years ago.

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The deal is part of a wider plan long term for the waterfront that stretches from Festival Gardens all the way to Bootle and includes a new Cruise Liner Terminal, the Ten Streets Creativity project, Liverpool Waters and if all goes as the city hopes, a brand new Everton stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson had this to say;

Liverpool’s waterfront has blossomed over the past decade but we are not finished yet – the next phase of development at Kings Dock will arguably be more transformational than what we have already achieved. Its growth will also help further cement the city’s growing global reputation as a great city for investment, leisure and to visit, work and live in.

While we have a tendency to snipe at some of these projects, it is hard to argue with this one.

It’s hard to know what Homes England or the Council could do with such an oddly shaped site, but with what they’ve managed so far we’d support any development that changes a blot on the landscape in the form of the  open car park.

If they can do something that hides the Convention Centre then all the better.

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