LIVERPOOL’S derelict Central Docks are to be transformed with a Manhattan-style mini-city of skyscrapers costing more than £5.5bn.
The Peel development will be linked to the city centre and Liverpool John Lennon Airport by a rapid monorail network.
It will be the biggest project in the North West for more than a century, and will mirror the similar scheme already revealed for the Wirral side of the Mersey.
Last night, city council leader Warren Bradley, who has been given a sneak preview of the plans, said: “This is what the future of our city is all about. It will be colossal.”
Liverpool Chamber of Commerce chairman David Wade-Smith has called for Peel to copy sister-city Shanghai and complete the bulk of the transformation within five years. Peel Holdings, the Manchester-based family firm that owns the Mersey docks, will unveil its proposals to the public at Liverpool town hall next Tuesday.
City leaders and executives from the major regeneration agencies have also been shown details of Peel’s scheme in advance. The company has ruled out any prospect of Everton FC building its new stadium on its dockland site.
Peel’s vision for the 150-acre site will see a development spanning 21m sq ft, dwarfing Grosvenor’s Paradise Street project, which is just over 1m square feet.
It will include 25,000 apartments, four hotels, shops, bars, restaurants and marina facilities.
Included is a futuristic monorail system that will provide a modern public transport link to the city centre and on to the airport.
Lindsey Ashworth, Peel’s development director, said: “The visionary scheme will see Liverpool become one side of the ocean gateway to the North West, an international waterside destination to rival cities such as Shanghai, Dubai, Vancouver and New York.”
On Tuesday, Mr Ashworth will unveil a visual present- ation of the scheme which will include a spectacular fly-through movie.
The Central Docks transformation, together with the Wirral Waters proposals on the opposite side of the River Mersey, brings the total investment by Peel in creating the two spectacular water-fronts to more than £10bn. Mr Ashworth added: “It will be the largest investment of this type in the North West for over a century.”
Nine months ago, Peel revealed plans for Birkenhead docks, again with skyscrapers, in a massive mixed-development transformation.
At that time, The Daily Post revealed that Peel’s hopes were to carry out a mirror scheme across the Mersey.
Now Peel has drawn up its ambitious plans. The chairman of the company, John Whittaker, outlined details of the Liverpool scheme to Cllr Bradley and his senior colleagues.
It is understood that at the private briefing there was overwhelming support for the project.
Cllr Bradley said: “It is stunning and just what Liverpool really needs. When you watch the presentation and see how the area will be transformed, it is amazing. It will demon-strate to the world that Liverpool is a forward-thinking city.
“Peel made it clear that, although it is a 30 to 40-year plan, they are eager to start as soon as possible.
“They want to start work on the water’s edge and work inwards. It will really show Liverpool as a truly international city standing proudly on the world stage.”
Mr Wade-Smith, who has witnessed the rapid transformation of Shanghai, with its skyscraper develop-ments on both sides of its river, said he believed Liverpool could similarly follow its Chinese sister city.
“There is no reason why much of the work could not be completed within a five-year timeframe,” he said.
Peel owns Liverpool John Lennon Airport, as well as the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. It also owns the Manchester Ship Canal and the Trafford Centre, on the outskirts of Manchester.